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Mumbai politicians raise commuter safety issue with railway minister

16-year-old Monika More, who lost both her hands after falling into a pit on a railway platform, could be the catalyst that moves the authorities to reducing the dangerous gap between local trains' footboards and platforms.

Mumbai: Monika More, the girl who lost both her hands earlier this month after she fell in a gap at Ghatkopar station, has become the talk of the town at least in political circles. Politicians from the BJP, MNS and NCP on Thursday met Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and cutting across party lines demanded a reduction in the gap between the trains and platforms in Mumbai.

The politicians went to the extent of taking along measurements of the gap between train and platforms, claiming that gaps had become one of the major reasons behind deaths on tracks in the city.

Ashok More, Monika's father, also met the Minister.

Senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya also demanded a proper rehabilitation policy for victims of railway accidents.

Somaiya told the minister that lacklustre safety measures resulted in 5600 accidents in 2013. He said there was gap between coaches and platform which was causing the mishaps.

Citing Monika's case as an example, Somaiya said, "There were no medical facilities and ambulance nearby at Ghatkopar station." Somaiya said Monica should be adequately rehabilitated. He also demanded raising the height of 359 platforms by six to ten cm. The BJP leader firther demanded that the limit of compensation be raised to Rs 10 lakh at the railway claims tribunal and fencing of railway stations.

"The railway minister has promised to create a special fund for Monika More and has assured all help to her. We have also asked the railways to increase the claim amount under Railway Claims Tribunal from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 10 lakh," Somaiya said.

The politicians also demanded that the height of the platforms be raised to a level that doesn't inconvenience commuters. Presently, the height is anywhere between 760mm to 840mm while the trains go up to 1200mm. The railways here have written to the Railway Ministry to raise the height of platforms to 920mm.

"I have asked the railways to raise a few platforms on trial basis wherein the platform height would be elevated to the height of the train's footboard. Moreover, the minister has promised that the gap issue will be taken on priority basis," said Rajya Sabha MP Balchandra Mungekar.

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