Mumbai: No lessons learnt from monorail mishap in 2015

Nov 11, 2017, 17:33 IST | Laxman Singh and Ranjeet Jadhav

Thursday's fire brings back question of passenger safety, reveals suggestions given by fire dept two years ago to tackle disaster-like situations still not implemented

This was expected - questions about and concerns over commuters' safety are back in the limelight, courtesy Thursday's monorail fire, in which two coaches of a train were gutted. It seems authorities running the transport system have failed to incorporate important suggestions given by the Mumbai Fire Brigade two years ago.

The two burnt coaches will be separated from the other two soon. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The two burnt coaches will be separated from the other two soon. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

According to officials, in March 2015, when monorail services were disrupted, leaving 11 passengers stuck in the train near Bhakti Park in Wadala, suggestions were given to monorail authorities for commuters' safety in case of any disaster, like fire or power failure.

No safety equipment
The then chief security officer of monorail in 2015 had met fire brigade officers to get guidelines on rescuing stranded passengers in cases of disaster.

A senior fire officer said, "After the 2015 incident, monorail authorities had approached us… to tackle such situations. Because monorail is completely elevated, it needs a proper system to deal with an eventuality like fire or some other accident to evacuate stranded passengers."

"We had told them to get self-rescue devices, ladders or snorkels, and automatic fire extinguishers to rescue passengers during mishaps. However, not a single suggested item has been procured yet," the officer added.

Self-rescue devices entail having a rope- or chain-like system inside the monorail coaches; in the event of a disaster, it'll help passengers to get to the ground quickly.

Another fire officer said that because the power supply cables passed underneath monorail coaches, authorities had been told to instal an indicator system that would show when the power was on and off.

"Not being able to tell if the power is on during firefighting puts our men at great risk, because the minute they use the jet to douse the flames, they will get electric shocks," added the officer.

Not sufficient
When asked about the fire department's suggestions and the status of their implementation, MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawathkar said, "It was suggested that automatic fire extinguishers be kept at the service centre, and we have done that. Also, manually-operated fire extinguishers were kept in all monorail coaches."

Sources from the development authority said Thursday's fire resulted in a loss of property worth Rs 15-20 crore. "To recover the loss, we will approach the insurance company," said Kawathkar.

The affected train is still at the spot, and work of dismantling it is expected to begin early Saturday. Sources told mid-day that the two gutted coaches would be separated from the other two, which would be pushed to the car depot in Wadala with the help of another train.

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