Indian Railways will shortly be acquiring new brand ambassadors: Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and film stars Aamir Khan and Jackie Shroff.
The three celebrities will feature in short documentaries to generate awareness on a critical issue: That it is possible to avoid deaths and accidents that have been happening with an alarming frequency at the manned and unmanned level crossings.
"Sachin, Aamir and Jackie have agreed. The documentaries will be produced by Pritish Nandy. All of them have offered their services for free," railways minister Dinesh Trivedi said on Friday.
Rattled by freak accidents that have happened at train level crossings, Trivedi had recently shot off letters to all chief ministers, "asking them to ensure adequate security arrangements to prevent avoidable mishaps of such sort."
Plans to launch a massive publicity campaign on the issue have been firmed up. "Campaigns will be conducted through the electronic and print media and through mobile phones (SMSs) and the use of posters, buntings and banners," a ministry official said.
Approximately 30% of all train accidents have been reported from the level crossings in past years. Of the total of 72 accidents reported from April to November this year, 29 have happened at the level crossings.
In the same period last year, 28 of the total of 86 accidents had been reported from the level crossings.
One hundred and ninety accidents have happened at level crossings in the past four years; killing 523 persons and injuring 461.
In the last three years, the railways has paid compensation worth R81.55 lakhs for unmanned level crossing incidents.