After racking their brains on how to curb the menace of kite flying along the railway tracks ahead of Makar Sankranti, the annual kite-flying festival, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in order to prevent any mishaps this year embarked on an education drive yesterday.
Following a series of incidents, which in the past have disrupted railway services, the first leg of this campaign began at Mahim. With a large number of encroachments lined along the tracks here, their main target was children kite fliers and their parents who reside there.
RPF officers assert that every year it is cumbersome running behind slum children residing here trying to stop them from flying kites near railway premises. The children tend to fly kites from the stabling lines, which are vacant during the day, as they are meant for parking trains at night.
“The children fly kites either standing on the rail tracks or over the roofs of these slums. It becomes worse when they snip another kite, then they blindly run after the sailing kite,” said a RPF officer who was present at the campaign.
The RPF team asked children to stand in a group. They then informed them about the hazards of flying kites near the tracks, and dangers associated with retrieving kites from Over Head Equipment (OHE) cables that supply 25,000-volts of electricity.
“There are chances of children getting run over by a passing train or getting electrocuted when they try to pull the manja hanging from the cable,” said another RPF officer.
The team then approached womenfolk from the slums and informed them to keep an eye on their children and prevent them from flying kites near tracks. “You should be responsible enough in making your children understand the dangers. If they get electrocuted, your family will be under stress,” said a lady officer.
Women present then told their children to listen to the railway cops, and as a tactic to scare them, threatened to hand them over to the RPF officers. RPF will now extend this campaign to other slum pockets at Bhayander, Borivali, Goregaon, Jogeshwari and Vile Parle railway stations.
“We want to educate people and create an awareness among children of the dangers of flying kites near tracks,” said Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway.
Two months ago, 11-year-old Sayyed Monu Hussain sustained burn injuries to his hands, chest and back while trying to retrieve an entangled kite whose manja was hanging from the OHE cable near the power substation in Mahim.
“My kite got entangled to the cable and I used a long rod to get it down when I got a shock,” said Sayyed. RPF personnel showed Sayyed’s burn injuries to the mothers who in turn asked their children to have a look and understand the dangers of flying kites near railway lines.
>> On January 15, this year, rail traffic was disrupted between Jogeshwari-Goregaon after the manja of a kite got entangled to the OHE wires
>> On January 10, last year, 7-year-old Nathu Naresh who was flying a kite from a road adjacent to railway lines in Borivili got electrocuted and was badly burnt after his metal-powder-coated kite string brushed against the OHE
>> In January 2010, Bhayender resident Ahmed Hussain Ansari (18) sustained burns when he climbed on the roof of a stationary train in the yard to grab hold of a kite