Taking cognisance of the safety violation during the Versova-Ghatkopar Metro trial run earlier this month, the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) has pulled up the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for laxity. On May 1, the city’s first Metro train chugged off from the Versova Metro station amid great fanfare. Several guests, including media persons, boarded the train to catch a glimpse of the interiors. But after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan flagged off the Metro, the train set off with passengers on board, which was a clear violation of safety rules.
Considering the incident as a serious safety lapse, CRS officials have drafted a letter to MMRDA asking why the trial run was commissioned without the mandatory safety certificate. CRS officials spurred into action after reading MiD DAY’s article (‘Metro takes scribes for a ride without a safety certificate,’ May 2) which exposed the safety violation. The rule states that no member of the general public can be allowed during trial runs before a safety certificate has been obtained from relevant authorities.
“Even if people entered the Metro coaches, how could the authorities allow the motormen to let the train leave the station?” said a CRS official on the condition of anonymity. The trial run was conducted on the three-km stretch between Versova and Azad Nagar metro stations. The problem started after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan entered some of the coaches for a customary inspection before flagging off the train. MMRDA, MMOPL officials and the ubiquitous scribes trooped in after him. He then stepped out of the train to give the final go-ahead. Officials followed him and hovered around the CM, as he prepared to flag off the train’s maiden journey. The scribes stayed putinside, and officials, too busy attending to the guest of honour,didn’t bother to tell them that they too were meant to dismount.
“We only realised the safety breach after the train had left the station. We got to know that there were a few people on the train, which is a gross violation of safety norms. Alarmed, we hastily called up the motormen and asked him to bring the train back, aware that transporting people without a safety certificate is in violation of safety norms,” said a MMRDA official on condition of anonymity.
Confirming that the letter was sent to the development authority, Padam Singh Baghel, CRS, Western Circle, said, “We have written to MMRDA, asking them how they allowed people in the Metro coaches without securing the safety certificate. The passengers did not have safety vests. We have asked them the reasons behind this violation.” PRK Murthy, chief of transport and communication, MMRDA was unavailable for comment.