Sunday, March 15, 2015

6,000 rail accident claims still pending


While the first trial run of closed-door trains meant to curb accidental deaths owing to commuters standing on footboards has already been conducted, the reality is that as many as 6,000 railway accident claims are pending with the Mumbai Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT) as the posts of two out of the three judicial members’ panel continue to lie vacant.

So much so, the city ranks first in the number of such cases, followed by Delhi (5,800) and Kolkata (5,400) as the sole existing panel member known as technical member is handling all the claims.
During the trial run conducted on WR on Friday, Central Railway (CR) and additional-charge Western Railway (WR) general manager Sunil Kumar Sood said that 50 per cent of accidents in Mumbai occurred when passengers fell off the footboards of running trains.
“According to statistics, around 50 per cent of commuters fall off train footboards which is why closed door locals are the need of the hour. Closed doors will bring down the number of deaths in Mumbai since it sees the most congested suburban traffic in India,” he said.
According to railway officers, Mr Sood’s resolve to curb deaths is commendable but the problem of pending claims needs to be resolved as well.
An officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The claim papers that are usually sent to us as part of protocol have hardly passed our desk since the past year. The railway board needs to realise that this means around 6,000 families who have either lost a loved one or the victims themselves who have lost a limb are waiting for justice.”
Officers said some of the claims dated to as far back as 2010. “The Mumbai RCT hears around 200 to 250 cases per day with just one member so imagine the volume of cases it could deal with if the panel was full. We are also seeing cases as far back as 2010 due to severe backlog of over a year,” said another official who also did not wish to be named.
According to the Government Railway Police (GRP), the city sees around 10 to 11 deaths per day due to various reasons, with trespassing being the second largest killer contributing to nearly 40 per cent of fatal accidents.

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