Bombay HC direct Rlys to raise Height of Platforms across Suburban routes by March 31

Observing that more than 70 lakh commuters use the services daily, the court said raising heights of the platforms should be completed by March 31, 2015.  No relief to the railways now, which had requested three years to complete the job

मुम्बई Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court has directed the railways to complete the process of raising heights of the platforms across Mumbai’s suburban section by March next year.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sonak denied the railways’ request to allow them three years to complete the work. Observing that more than 70 lakh commuters use the services daily and safe travel was a “fundamental right of passengers”, the court directed that the work of raising heights of all the platforms to 900mm level should be completed by March 31, 2015.

The court was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation based on reports published in this newspaper about how people were losing lives on Mumbai’s lifeline due to gaps between the platforms and footboard of the local trains.

Both Western Railway and Central Railway had submitted an affidavit detailing their action plan to remove the gap trap.

The affidavits mentioned that it would require three years to complete the work of increasing the heights of all the platforms across the city. Advocate Suresh Kumar, appearing for the railways, cited lack of funds for the expected time of completion.

The court, however, directed the railways to release funds on an urgent basis. The height of 145 platforms on the Western line, and 72 on the Central line, was proposed to be raised at the cost of Rs 96 crore.

The court also issued notice to the state government seeking reply on a plea made by the railways for increasing the number of helipads in and around the city to speed up relief/rescue operations in case of accidents, so that accident victims could be airlifted to hospitals, he said, adding that it had written to Maharashtra government for this purpose.

The Central Railway had written to the state chief secretary, requesting to convert 14 open spaces in helipads. The 14 locations mentioned in the letter are Azad Maidan, Matunga Gymkhana ground, the Railway Colony ground (Kurla), the Dadoji Kondadev Stadium (Thane), the railway school (Kalyan), the MIDC (Ambarnath), the Adarsh Vidya Mandir ground (Badlapur), Nandkumar Institute (Bhivpuri Road), Dolphin School (Vangani), a helipad in Lonavala, the Ganesh temple ground (Titwala), the Igatpuri railway ground, Panvel, and the YMCA ground (Vasai).  There is a need to devise a system to make Air Force helicopters available for such rescue operations, it added.

The PIL was taken up by the High Court earlier this year on its own after Monica More, a college student, lost both her arms after falling into a gap between the platform and the footboard at suburban Ghatkopar station while boarding a train.