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Friday, February 24, 2017

Sad ! people die travelling by EMU - callous, who ??

Callous :  1. made hard; hardened.; 2. insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic:

How does your kid commute to school … many of us are not in a position to drop them to school…. Most make arrangements with private autos; vans and cycle rickshaws….. and feel that they have done their duty….. how many have cared to see the way their children commute in the vehicle arranged….. many a parents would keep on making calls to their van driver … just to know where the van is, whether their delay in preparations  could impact and whether their children is safely travelling…….. all ‘without even thinking that they are imperilling their own and other children travelling in that van’……… see some small boyish driver driving the van rashly ~ speaking on the mobile phone all the time !! and he could well be answering your call….. duty does not stop with that… after all you are paying for that van, can’t you care to check whether the vehicle is properly maintained and whether it is being driven by a person, who possess valid DL and is in a state of mind to drive it properly….. ???

In Dec 2012, in a  gruesome accident that brought home the perils of footboard travelling, four students were fatally caught between a speeding city bus and a lorry on Rajiv Gandhi Salai.  Two of them were college students, while the other two were going to school. The accident involving route number 519 deluxe bus took place around 8 a.m. close to Srinivasa Nagar 7th Main Road at Kandanchavadi. Chandan, an eyewitness, said the lorry was taking a left turn next to his fruit juice shop when the jam-packed bus was about to pass it.

That was not the first nor the last – but was that an accident in a true sense – could it have been averted ? – why do people are so risky putting forth their life in endanger !! – who is to be blamed – and whoever the blame goes, there is no alleviation for the victim – is that not known. 

Chennai bursts at seams – you see maddening crowds everywhere, almost throughout the day  - and commoners do suffer travelling in public transport. If buses are crowded, trains are overcrowded.  In an incident cruelly highlighting the pitfalls of travel on crowded suburban trains, three men died after falling off a train near Pazhavanthangal railway station yesterday  morning. Four others were grievously injured. All seven had been hanging on to the footboard of a packed coach of a Chengalpet-Chennai Beach train.

representational photo ~ not the way people travel daily

A high-level inquiry by the commissioner of Railway Safety would begin soon with a visit to the spot, a Southern Railway source said. Around 9am, police and railways officials said, the train had crossed Pazhavanthangal when the bag of one man, later identified as Manikandan, a 22-year-old AC technician, got entangled in a signal post on the tracks and he was dragged out. As he was falling, he instinctively grabbed at A Praveen Raj, a welder, and both men plunged down. They died instantly. Gory details and one shudders to think of the situation, even as one reads such accidents. 

Of the others similarly dragged down one by one, Samuel Jebasingh, 23, died while being taken to Chromepet General Hospital. K Gopinath, 29, M Manikandan, 20, S Devaraj, 26, and J Madhusudhanan, 27, are being treated at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.
Soon after the incident, a team of Southern Railway officials conducted an inspection to see if the signal post was too close to the tracks.“We found there was nothing wrong from railways point of view. It has been classified as a T-1 accident, which puts the onus on the passengers,“ a spokesman said.

~and TOI has a caption – ‘ we have no options, says footboard travellers’ – what an irony ! how pathetic – is this the end sought !! The report states that many said if railways heeded suggestions to increase frequency of trains between Chengleput to Beach, accident could have been averted.  The inability of the railways to run more frequent services is linked to the slow pace of capacity addition work on the section. A third line between Tambaram and Chengalpet has been sanctioned, but work is on at snail's pace. Even if it is completed, railways cannot increase suburban services as a fourth line is required. For the latter, Railway Board is not giving sanction as it wants the Tamil Nadu government to contribute equally to the capital expenditure. Trains from Chennai to Tambaram are available once every 10 minutes, but the same is not true for locations between Tambaram and Chengalpet. Between 9am and noon, there is only one train every 30 to 40 minutes. These stop at all intermediate stations and there are only two fast services from Chingleput.

“It is inevitable that we have to travel on the footboard, often dangling dangerously. People take the risk as the next train is available after 30 minutes and is slower,“  a regular is quoted as telling Times of India. Though not the one travelling by the train and hence may not understand the practical difficulties that is being putforth, I tend to totally  disagree.  As  Senior Government Railway Police officers say missing a train is better than putting one's life at risk. “GRP and Railway Protection Force (RPF) has organised awareness programmes to educate people on avoiding footboard travel. It is a punishable offence under Railways Act,“ a senior official said. Asked about steps taken to check footboard travel, an RPF official said, “Since many colleges fall on this stretch, students are regular footboard travelers. We conduct regular checks during peak hours and make sure they don't travel on footboards.’ According to RPF data, the Chennai Beach-Tambaram route is considered dangerous for footboard travellers. Thirteen people died and 40 were injured during 2015-16 on the route.

Personnel from the Railway Police Force had a tough time pushing back the crowd that thronged the accident site to catch a glimpse of the bodies. But for residents of Thiruvalluvar Nagar and Jeevan Nagar located on either side of the tracks, the deaths are nothing new. They are familiar with the screams and shudders born out of urban helplessness.does it not  agitate your mind and heart to read this para – how can deaths be so normal ! – and who is callous here – is it the commoner who willingly or otherwise forced as they would like to be called putting their life to danger, lack of care by authorities – traveller getting by post is not new (if so, can they not be put at a little more distance !); the Govt local and Central, which have time for all squabbles, but not for transportation and other facilities; again the people, who agitate for some pettythings but carry on as if nothing is hindered in what should happen in their own interests.  I really do not have an answer, but am feeling sad – lives lost, some hit headlines, they sound not even anguished – the next day, same things would continue, as if nothing untoward had happened.  The situation many not be any different in any other Indian city !

Sad, indeed !!

With sorrow – S. Sampathkumar

24th Feb 2017.

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