Bombay HC-appointed Accident Monitoring Committee meets at Station Master’s room

‘Improve rescue, relief monitoring for local train accidents’ – Committee observes that while stretchers are provided in long distance trains, due to lack of space in EMU motorcab, none is kept in the suburban train

Mumbai Dadar West (DDR): Strechers inside local trains, live rescue and relief monitoring system, mobilisation of local police and affixing responsibility on officials who failed to perform their duty were some of the suggestions submitted Wednesday to the Bombay High Court-appointed accident monitoring committee, by friends and relatives of Dhaval Lodaya (17). The meeting was conducted inside the station manager’s office at Dadar station.

Dhaval died in the accident on March 20, after the last five coaches of a CST-bound Kasara local derailed between Titwala and Ambivli railway stations in Thane district. According to Dhaval’s relatives, the teenager was alive for an hour after the accident, but succumbed to injuries due to lack of timely medical help.

Following a writ petition by Dr Sarosh N Mehta in 2001, the Bombay High Court in 2004 appointed an accident monitoring committee to look into accident-related passenger grievances. The committee, comprising representatives from the railway and other stakeholders, is required to meet once in 60 days. The committee, which has to meet aggrieved passengers from both Central Railway and Western Railway, has to submit a report every six months to the general manager.

While stretchers are provided in long distance trains, due to lack of space in electric multiple unit (EMU) motorcab, none is kept in the suburban train.

The committee members said they would suggest the railways to create a rack inside the motorcab where a foldable stretcher can be kept.

Dharshak Rupani, Dhaval’s uncle, said, “Railways should train station staff, railway police and Railway Protection Force (RPF) to help accident victims and prioritise relief and rescue work. A report from every official who was at the accident spot should be submitted to identify the lacunae and reward officers who did their duty. There should be a live rescue and relief monitoring system.”

Jai Lodariya (20), a friend who was travelling with Dhaval, detailed the alleged negligence of the police, ambulance authorities and bystanders, to the committee Wednesday.

“Within two minutes of the accident, over 150 people were at the spot. They were busy taking pictures and videos. I kept begging for help but no one came forward. One RPF official started asking us for details like residential address. I told him we would give all of it but we must first shift Dhaval to the hospital. There were other police officials who were busy barricading the area but refused to help us,” Jai told the committee. According to Jai, he was abused by the ambulance drivers when he tried to take the stretcher to lift Dhaval.

The accident took place at 2.50 pm and Dhaval, who was flung out of the train due to the derailment, was alive till 3.30 pm, said Jai.

Dhaval’s relatives were unhappy with the lack of proper conduct in the meeting due to passenger representatives and NGOs, who allegedly did not allow the family to put forward their grievances.

“No one is even aware that a committee exists to look into accident-related problems. From the proceedings of the committee, it only looks like they are a suggestion box and nothing will change in the system. We will continue our fight for Dhaval and approach the court,” said Ketan Karani, Dhaval’s uncle. He said he learned about the committee only while considering legal options.