Mumbai: Cops roll up sleeves against deadly kites

RPF has formed special squads to ensure slum dwellers steer clear of railway tracks and overhead cables while flying kites as part of Makar Sankranti celebrations; around 5 to 7 people are injured each year

A plethora of vibrant and colourful kites adorn the sky during Makar Sankranti. However, this colourful festival comes with a hint of danger, especially for slum dwellers who live along the railway tracks in the suburbs.

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Special squads will keep an eye on areas like Mahim-Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri-Jogeshwari, Kandivli and Vasai where slums and small buildings are prevalent along the tracks
Special squads will keep an eye on areas like Mahim-Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri-Jogeshwari, Kandivli and Vasai where slums and small buildings are prevalent along the tracks

Injuries
Railway Police Force (RPF) officials claim that every year around five to seven people get injured or die during Makar Sankranti. Also, the sport poses a risk to the overhead cables that could affect train services.

Each year revellers are seen flying kites near the railway tracks and high-powered overhead electric cables. To tackle this, the RPF has formed teams that will keep an eye on areas where kite flying is rampant near tracks and also ask parents to monitor their children.

Sources in RPF said these teams will mainly visit slum areas where children perch on shanties and fly kites. “The teams have been formed and they will visit these locations, where they have been instructed to make people aware of the dangers involved in kite flying,” said Anand Vijay Jha, senior divisional security commissioner, Western Railway.

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The team members will inform parents that carelessness while performing this sport can result in mishaps like electrocution or getting hit by a train while catching kites. On the WR, authorities have zeroed in on sections at Mahim-Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri-Jogeshwari, Kandivli and Vasai, where slums and small buildings are prevalent along the tracks.

Meanwhile, railway officials from the electrical department stated that kite flyers are prone to fatal shocks as manja (string laced with glass, chemicals and metallic powder coating) could attract overhead cables carrying 25,000-volt electricity.

Railway says
“We have asked our staff to keep a watch near slums and stop children from flying kites near tracks,” said S Bhalode, senior divisional security commissioner, Central Railway. While power supplied to trains is 25,000-volt all the way between Churchgate and Dahanu Road on WR, it’s the same for CR between CST-Karjat/Kasara. The Harbour line, though, is undergoing power upgradation.

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