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Titwala derailment: Railways blame state, MMRDA for teen's death

CR authorities say they have written several times to both, asking for improving roads along railway tracks, but to no avail; Dhaval Lodaya (18) died due to a delay in hospitalisation, as the ambulance couldn’t reach him on the tracks

The death of 18-year-old Dhaval Lodaya has once again brought to the fore the pathetic road infrastructure and lack of planning in Mumbai’s transport system.

Dhaval Lodaya’s parents show a picture of their bleeding son during the protest at CST. The family submitted a letter to the DRM, blaming the railways for a delay in fetching an ambulance to the accident spot, which resulted in their son’s death. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Dhaval Lodaya’s parents show a picture of their bleeding son during the protest at CST. The family submitted a letter to the DRM, blaming the railways for a delay in fetching an ambulance to the accident spot, which resulted in their son’s death. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Dhaval’s family and friends protested on Monday and blamed railway authorities for failed disaster management; after the accident, his friends had tried hard to get an ambulance to their bleeding friend, but the tracks were not accessible to the vehicle.

Even after it managed to reach the victims, the vehicle was stuck in a traffic jam. The road between Kasara and Kalyan is in terrible condition, as it is dug up in long patches, causing long lines of vehicles to line up frequently. Railway officials claim they have written several letters to the state government and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). “When there is any problem on the suburban rail, it is a headache for us, too.

We feel helpless, as ambulances cannot make their way towards the accident site on time, which, at times, results in victims dying. We have written several letters to state government agencies to improve the roads along the rail tracks, but nothing has happened,” said a senior official from Central Railway (CR), who didn’t wished to be named.

Presently, road connectivity beyond Thane is poor and cannot take load of vehicles, especially during rail disasters. Similarly, on the Western Railway (WR), the road network is pitiable after Borivli, towards Virar. “We have written reminders to carry out vital work on the roads from time to time. But, there is hardly any improvement,” said a WR official.

Lack of coordination
With the dismal coordination and communications arrangement between railways and the government, life becomes difficult for the common man. Transport planners claim that in cities across the world, road networks are meticulously planned and actually created.

“Alternate modes of transport and planning to expand the road network here is simply on paper,” said A V Shenoy, a transport expert. “At the very least, 4-lane roads need to be created along railway lines, so that during emergencies dispersal can happen,” added a government official.

Family meets railway accident committee
The family of Dhaval Lodaya, who died in the Kasara-CST train derailment, met the Railway Accident Monitoring Committee yesterday at Dadar to discuss the issues involving the care of Railway accident victims.

The role of this High Court-appointed committee is to raise railway related issues on accidents on tracks, discuss them, arrive at a solution and give a report to the HC and Indian Railway.

Based on the report, the court then directs railways to carry out necessary work for improving travelling conditions on suburban rail systems. The committee comprises Central and Western Railway officials (divisional medical officers and engineers), railway police, NGO representatives and commuter activists.

First, Jay Lodaria, Dhaval’s friend who was travelling with him, narrated the entire incident. Members then asked questions to learn further details. Family members also put forth these suggestions to ensure such incidents don’t occur in future:

>> Stretchers to be kept in the guard and motorman’s cabin for accident victims
>> Stationmasters and their staff to be trained to handle accident victims
>> Proper disaster management team to be made available at every station to take care of such situations.

MMRDA speak
Dilip Kawathkar, spokesperson for MMRDA, said, “If the local municipal council sends a proposal to us for any specific development, we will surely look into it.”

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