Thursday, Sep 25, 2003
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By P. Oppili
Officials argue that on an average, at least 10 people get knocked down by speeding trains in a month, and this prompted them to conduct the drive regularly.
People who cross in a hurry from one side of the road (Old Perambur bus stand side) to reach the bus stand on the other side at Mangalapuram form the major group of `victims', who unwittingly become trespassers and thus land themselves in trouble.
Though there is a subway on the southern end of the station, it is not used by many. The subway is not well maintained, and has a forbidding character, say commuters. Most of the time the lights within the subway are not switched on. Fearing an attack from criminals, many people prefer to make a dash across the track, they said. Moreover women do not feel it is safe to use the subway at any time of day, they added.
Another group of people said the RPF personnel were detaining only those who were not railway employees. During the drive against trespass, the RPF personnel allow the railway employees (who carry the identity card of the unions to which they are affiliated) to go scot-free and detained the public. Denying this charge, senior RPF officials said the drive was conducted mainly to reduce the number of accidents at the station.
A senior police officer conceded that during evening hours people use the subway only when police protection was provided. Otherwise, even the men prefer to cross the track to avoid any attack from the criminals, he said.
First the compound wall along the track had to be completed, which would stop the people from trespassing, it was suggested. However, police officials said that already attempts were made to close the passage (through which the commuters enter the tracks), but it proved futile. They had managed to break the barricade and started trespassing along the railway property.
The railway authorities have to construct the compound wall. Before that they should hold discussions with the State Government to improve the lighting and other facilities in the subway. Both the RPF and GRP personnel should regularly patrol the subway to dispel the fears of the people using it and to encourage the commuters to use it, and help reduce the number of accidents on the stretch.
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