Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Manthan K Mehta| May 16, 2016,

Mumbai: As many as 22 railway workers die every year on the city suburban network that carries 80 lakh passengers on Western Railway and Central Railway.

These include gangmen and railway employees, who work on maintenance of tracks, signalling and over head equipment. Most accidents happen when these workers are run over by trains but there are cases of electrocution too. Information procured under the Right to Information (RTI) reveal that as many as 131 workers have died since 2010. RTI activist Anil Galgali said, "This shows that safety measures are not in place while carrying out maintenance work."

Most deaths in this period have occurred under Dadar railway police station with 19 casualties followed by 17 under Kurla railway police that falls between Mulund and Kurla.

General secretary of National Railway Mazdoor Union Venu Nair said, "The work that is being carried on tracks is not as per the engineering manual of Indian Railways. For example, there needs to be two people ahead of the working team-one showing the flag and another blowing the whistle to alert the gangmen to stay clear of the tracks. However in Mumbai, the flag and the whistle is held by the same person. This can lead to error in judgment and can result in the loss of life."

The union also alleged that untrained people are deputed for such risky work. In other railways, block is taken to carry out such work but in Mumbai it is not possible as the train system runs almost throughout the day with a frequency of 4 minutes

Sabir Sheikh of the Central Railway Contract Labour Union said, "Most railway workers, who meet with accidents, are not professional and are not familiar with the working of the system. Their families also suffer as in such cases compensation is not easy to obtain."

On February 19, four contract labourers died but compensation was denied because they were of-duty. Railway unions said that they are given accommodation close to tracks it is likely they can meet with the accident. In such cases, compensation should not be denied.

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