Suresh Prabhu orders formation of panel to stop deaths on tracks in Mumbai

Mumbai: Three days after a 21-year-old youth died after falling from a moving suburban local train in Thane district, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today ordered formation of a committee to suggest steps to stop such incidents.

In a statement issued here, the Western Railway said, "Minister of Railways has expressed grave concern over the rising cases of accidental deaths in Mumbai suburban railway system."

"He has directed immediate constitution of a committee consisting of representative of Railways, Maharashtra government, Mumbai Commuters' Association and NGOs working in the area," it says.

The committee shall also hold public hearings and submit its recommendations within a month, it said.

21-year-old youth Bhavesh Nakathe was killed on Friday after he fell from an overcrowded train between Kopar and Diva stations in Thane district. A video clip of the incident, captured by a co-passenger, went viral on social media sites.

An RTI query filed by an activist Anees Khan earlier had revealed that as many as 25,722 passengers had fallen off running local trains in Mumbai (travelling on Western, Central and Harbour suburban services in Mumbai Commissionerate) in the last ten years, of whom 6,989 commuters died, while 18,733 survived.

In its reply, the Government Railway Police (GRP), Mumbai had also informed that in 2005, total 494 commuters lost their lives after falling from running trains. This figure went up subsequently in the coming years and reached upto 901 in 2013, up 82 per cent as compared to the death toll in 2005.

When asked about Prabhu's direction for constitution of the committee, Khan welcomed the move, but added that the decision has come "very late".

"The basic reason for so many fatalities on tracks is that railway officials have failed to comprehend the hardships of the commuters...I believe this proposed committee would find the reasons and make proper and implementable recommendations," he said. "Most of the passengers fall off the running trains when they struggle to get into a coach and fail to enter it or get dashed against a pole near the railway track," he said.

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