In the wake of several incidents of commuters dying after falling off overcrowded trains, the Bombay High Court said Wednesday the situation had gone out of control. The court asked that the advocate general (AG) of Maharashtra be apprised of all previous orders of the HC so he could take cognisance of the matter.
A 45-year-old man died after allegedly falling from a local train between Kopar and Diva railway stations in Thane on Tuesday, making it the third such incident in a week. On November 27, 21-year-old Bhavesh Nakate died after falling from a crowded train between Kopar and Diva railway stations.
Coming down heavily on the Central and Western railways, the state government and the Ministry of Railways, a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and S B Shukre asked the authorities, including the railways ministry, to list out all measures taken towards addressing the issues of overcrowding and increasing number of accidents on the local trains.
The counsel for the railways told the bench that the AG had called a meeting on Thursday and that he would apprise the AG of the court’s direction.
The bench was hearing several public interest litigations on infrastructure and security arrangements in the local train network in the city and on the safety of women on such trains.
“The situation of overcrowding on the local trains has gone out of control. Surprisingly, none of the concerned authorities are taking the issue seriously. These deaths will continue unless the railways and the State together take immediate steps. People are dying on the trains and the tracks every day and the authorities cannot continue to keep their eyes shut. If you act now and succeed in saving even just one such life, your actions will make a large difference,” said the bench.
The HC also observed that the Central and Western railways were not capable of coming up with solutions on their own and has asked the railways ministry to provide it with details of all the steps the ministry has taken to safeguard travel in local trains.
“The situation has gone so bad that the state and the railway ministry must work together. It is wrong to impose the entire burden on the Central and Western Railways. What has the ministry done in all these years? Will it be able to list out a single step it has taken to aid the locals? Why aren’t the Mumbai locals your (the ministry’s) priority? After all, Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country,” said the bench.
The local rail authorities informed the bench that it was in the process of setting up medical centres inside station premises and that the Central Railways will have 15 such centres by next year.
The HC has posted the matter for hearing on December 16 and sought a report from the railways.