Samir Zaveri, who had filed the PIL, told the court that annual income of the suburban Railways was Rs1,824 crore, while expenditure was Rs1,624 leaving a balance of Rs200 crore as surplus
The Bombay High Court has rejected the proposal of Central and Western Railways to levy cess on Mumbai suburban commuters for funding emergency medical centres at stations. The HC said it is the statutory obligation of the authorities under the Constitution to provide such service.
Suresh Kumar, Railway Counsel, informed a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka that the authorities were proposing to levy a cess on monthly season ticket holders for such services.
The Bench, while hearing a petition filed by railway and RTI activist Samir Zaveri, rejected the proposal saying that the Railways were under the obligation to provide emergency medical services free of cost to the commuters. Even the Constitution gave a right to the citizens to enjoy the right to safety, the bench ruled.
While the Railways pleaded that their expenditure exceeded income and hence a levy was proposed, the petitioner, Zaveri, who himself lost both his legs in an accident, argued that suburban Railways were making a profit.
Zaveri said he had learnt through an RTI that the annual income of the suburban Railways was to the tune of Rs1,824 crore, while the expenditure was Rs1,624 leaving a balance of Rs200 crore as surplus.
The court also ordered the Railways to provide Emergency Medical Rooms at all the stations as soon as possible.
The Railways informed that at big stations, where the accidents have numbered more than 100 in the recent months, emergency medical rooms would be set up in three months and at other stations they would come up in the next six months.
The bench, however, asked the Railways to provide such services at the earliest.
The court directed the Maharashtra Government to provide cardiac care unit to the ambulances stationed at the railway stations to carry accident victims to hospitals in emergency.
"In keeping with the court orders, the Railways have to provide at their own cost an emergency medical room equipped with a bed, doctor and a nurse at every station and also keep ambulance as stand by to shift injured to hospitals in case of accidents," said the bench.
After a trauma centre was set up at Dadar railway station on the orders of the court, the HC in March 2013 ordered the Railways to consider setting up such rooms at other major stations — Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Bandra, Andheri, Borivli, Vasai, Palghar, Kurla, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan, Karjat, Wadala, Vashi and Panvel — which had seen over a 100 accidents in the previous year.
Hundreds of people die every year on city's suburban railway system after falling from overcrowded trains and crossing the tracks, the PIL said and sought medical facilities for accident victims in the "golden hour" (within one hour of the accident).
According to railway police statistics, about 3,600 people die and over 4,000 are injured every year, with activists blaming overcrowding and the lackadaisical attitude of railway authorities for the mishaps.