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Sachin, Rekha on panel to study train deaths in Mumbai

Mammoth committee to have 19 MPs, state govt officials, commuters’ representatives

mumbai Updated: Dec 04, 2015 18:30 IST
Mumbai,Local trains,Western Railway
A rose is given to a person who was crossing tracks at Thane station, during an awareness drive organised by Thane Pravasi Sanghatana on the occasion of World Disability Day on Thursday.(Praful Gangurde)

Rajya Sabha members Sachin Tendulkar, actor Rekha, and screenwriter/lyricist Javed Akhtar, along with elected parliamentarians, will look into reasons why hundreds of people are losing their lives annually on the 128-km long suburban network of the Western Railway (WR), on which more than 35 lakh commuters travel every day.

Western Railway on Thursday appointed a mammoth Accident Review Committee with 19 MPs on board, including the three celebrities, railway and state government officials, and commuters’ representatives.

A WR spokesperson said the committee would hold its first public hearing at Churchgate on Saturday. Railway officials and commuters’ activists, however, doubt whether the MPs will turn up for meetings and hearings, because most of them do not attend regular meetings of other railways-appointed committees. Recently, railways minister Suresh Prabhu had announced that panels would be set up to look into the reasons behind the rising numbers of accidental deaths on the tracks, and to suggest corrective measures. His announcement came in the wake of public outrage over the death of 21-year-old Dombivli resident Bhavesh Nakate, who died after falling from an overcrowded train.

Acting on Prabhu’s directive, Central Railway set up a nine-member panel, including four MPs. But the the panel sparked controversy, because people close to the ruling BJP were apppointed, and commuter groups were ignored. Hence, taking a cautious stand, WR has set up a huge 25-member committee.

Lok Sabha MPs Arvind Sawant, Rahul Shewale, Gopal Shetty, Poonam Mahajan, Rajan Vichare, and Chintaman Vanaga are on the panel, along with 12 Rajyasabha MPs, including nominated members such as Tendulkar, Rekha and Javed Akhtar.

WR’s AGM and chief public relations officer are on the panel, besides an official each from the state government and Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation. Passenger activist P Lohakare and Kailash Verma will represent commuter groups, while transport expert Hrishi Agarwal will be the representative of the non-governmental organisations.

First Published: Dec 04, 2015 18:30 IST