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Telangana tragedy prods Ranchi bridge-open cry
- Assembly session or not, no kids on tracks please

Ranchi, July 25: Every time the Assembly is in session in Ranchi, residents who want to cross Birsa Chowk to reach HEC Township and Harmu bypass or vice-versa, face a life-threatening situation. They are compelled to cross unmanned railway tracks on the stretch as overbridge gates are closed to bar political protesters, real or mythical.

The district administration, keen to protect the House from troublemakers, closes road overbridge gates, forcing daily pedestrians, including many children from government-aided minority school Bangiya Sanskritik Parishad Vidyalaya, to walk on tracks.

Ironically, protesters, if they so wish, are free to use the tracks too. How that saves the august House from ruckus is open to question.

But a day after 16 children and two others were killed when their school bus drove through an unmanned railway crossing and came in the path of a train in Medak, Telangana, Ranchi railway authorities have decided to write to the district administration to keep the overbridge gates open.

The monsoon Assembly session will start from August 1.

Divisional security officer of Ranchi railway division B.K. Sinha said they had pressed the district administration for keeping open the gates of the road overbridge two months before yesterday’s tragedy in Telangana. Now, they are doing so again.

“Yesterday’s accident jolted us. We have decided to send a written reminder to the deputy commissioner about keeping the gates open despite the Assembly session starting from August 1. By tomorrow, the letter will be sent,” Sinha said.

Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey admitted the problem, adding that they did not like closing the gates, too. “But we are left with no other option during Assembly sessions if protesters assemble at Birsa Chowk and cross the gate to disturb the House,” he claimed.

He also said that the railway authorities should think about “practical difficulties” faced by the district administration. “If the railways reduced the speed of trains to 10kmph on the stretch between Hatia to Ranchi during Assembly sessions, the possibility of accidents would come down,” he said.

In the past, the high court had suggested that the district administration find some alternative to closing the road overbridge gates during Assembly session.

Earlier this month, Rajya Sabha MP from the state Parimal Nathwani expressed his concern over people’s safety on unmanned railway crossings. In his response, Union minister of state for railways Manoj Kumar Sinha said Jharkhand had 246 unmanned level crossings.

There were 10 casualties and six accidents on unmanned level crossings under South Eastern Railway during the past three years.

A railway official said of the 246, the number of unmanned level crossings under Ranchi railway division was 98. Last year, two persons had died in the unmanned Hatia-Bandamunda section.


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