The Western Railway (WR) has informed the Bombay high court that they have only 11 ambulances to rush railway accident victims to nearby hospitals.
Dr Meena Shekhar, senior divisional medical officer, WR, admitted this in an affidavit filed in response to a public interest litigation filed in 2008 by Samir Zaveri, who lost his legs in a railway accident
His advocate Dipesh Siroya argued that they are seeking medical facilities for accident victims in “Golden Hour” (within one hour of the accident).
Giving details of the 11 ambulances, Shekhar’s affidavit states: “1298/Red Swastik Ambulance services are available on call at all stations up to Dahisar. There are seven departmental ambulances, of which, three have been provided by WR Women Social Service Committee and four by NGOs.”
Her affidavit adds: “The WR Women Social Services Committee has donated three ambulances as a gesture to help injured passengers. It clearly reflects the concern and efforts of the railways and their wards.”
These ambulances are available at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Lower Parel, Bandra, Goregaon, Kandivli and Mira Road stations. The railways provide transport arrangements like taxis on call basis if ambulances are not available. The stationmasters can withdraw Rs750 from the station earnings without any approval for hiring taxi/ambulances.
Partly blaming the state government, Shekhar’s affidavit said that under the Constitution of India, the state has to make provision of hospitals, dispensaries and provide medical aid.
In 2009, the court had directed the WR to take Dadar as a pilot project and implement all the medical facilities, including a full-time doctor. The order was challenged in the Supreme Court, which is pending for hearing.