Mumbai: Killer Vaitarna bridge claims one more life

Updated: Oct 14, 2019, 07:30 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Even as authorities work on a walkway, 26-year-old rushing home with medicines becomes latest victim

Pritam Patil, who was run over. Pic/Hanif Patel
Pritam Patil, who was run over. Pic/Hanif Patel

The killer Vaitarna bridge has claimed another victim, a 26-year-old youth from Vadhiv, who was run over by the Darshan Express on Sunday morning while on his way home. Locals of both Vadhiv and Saravali villages have now ratcheted up their demands for a halt of trains between Vaitarna and Safale railway stations so that they don't have to take the bridges to cross over.

The Palghar GRP has registered an accidental death report in the matter. The deceased has been identified as Pritam Patil, a resident of Vadhiv village, Palghar district. He used to do odd jobs at Safale to earn a living. Speaking about the incident, a GRP officer said, "The motorman of train number 12493 informed us that a person had been run over between Vaitarna and Safale railway stations. We immediately rushed a team from Safale to the spot from where the dismembered body of the youth was recovered. All the body parts were then sent to a primary health centre in Safale for post-mortem and later handed over to his father."

Breaking into tears while speaking to mid-day, the deceased's father Ravindra Patil said, "He was not keeping well since the past few days. As it was his weekly off, I had asked him to see a doctor in Vaitarna. Around 10 am I received a call from my neighbours who said that a speeding train had mowed down my son. I was shocked."

Fifth tragedy

This is the fifth death that has taken place on the 'killer' bridges since March 30 this year. Over thousands of commuters, including school children, ailing people, pregnant women from Vadhiv and Saravali villages are forced to stare death in the face every day as they cross the two rail bridges over the river because they have no other way to
reach Vaitarna and Safale railway stations.

Time and again, the locals have raised the issue with the government and sought road connectivity between the villages and railway stations but their requests have fallen on deaf ears. Following mid-day's story highlighting the dangers that locals face every day, the Railways has agreed to build a pathway along the railway bridge but that would only be for their workers.

Halt for trains

In view of the growing number of deaths taking place on the bridges, residents living in the nearby villages have now ratcheted up their demand for a halt of trains between Vaitarna and Safale stations so that they don't have to take the bridges. According to sources, this would help them to get onto the trains and get off on the other side.

Speaking about the difficulties they face everyday, Vadhiv-resident Deepak Patil said, "There is only a single school in our village that offers classes till the Std VII. Our children have to walk 400 metres on that death trap to reach Vaitarna to attend further classes. We are under constant fear till they return home safely. A halt between Vaitarna and Safale stations will be a huge relief for us."

Sangeeta Patil, whose husband Ramesh was run over by a train on April 11, said, "If the Railways is planning to make a pathway for its own employees, why should we be happy? It is not for us."

"I don't understand why the Railways can't give a halt to trains between the two stations. It will be helpful for everyone. At least we will not lose precious lives," said Patil, who daily carries sacks filled with vegetables on her head and crosses one of the bridges to take a train for Borivali from Vaitarna.

Sarpanch of Vadhiv-Saravali gram panchayat, Deepika Rathe said, "We have been writing letters to the Railways since years but have not got any relief in this matter till date. Our children have been risking their lives to cross the bridges to reach the other side for further studies. Many of them have stopped attending their classes in Virar or Palghar." "If trains are given a halt then the children will be able to continue with their daily classes in Mumbai and Palghar," she added.

'Will affect punctuality'

However, when contacted, chief public relations officer of Western Railway, Ravindra Bhakar said, "It is not possible to halt trains between Vaitarna and Safale as it is one of the busiest lines. It will affect the punctuality of trains. We will also have to cancel certain trains to accommodate the halt," said.

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