PIL seeks damage for train mishap victims

 Raising the issue of lack of railway safety in the backdrop of the death of 14 persons at an unmanned level-crossing at Khairapalli near Sambalpur last week, social activist and advocate Prabir Kumar Das on Tuesday filed a PIL in the Odisha High Court seeking at least Rs 10-lakh compensation to the family of each victim.

Das also sought a court direction to both State and Central Governments to provide free treatment to all those who sustained injuries in the accident. The mishap took place when an express train hit a vehicle in which the victims were crossing the railway track on August 25.

“All the victims were farm labourers under BPL category. While 13 of the 14 deceased were women and they belonged to the SC community, their family members cannot independently fight seeking damage,” Das said in his petition.

The petition also urged the court for a direction to the Indian Railways to eliminate all the unmanned level-crossings in the State by either converting them to manned level-crossings or providing road under-bridges (RUBs) or limited height subways (LHSs).

Referring to a recent letter written by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to Railway Minister Mukul Roy, the petition maintained that there are now over 600 unmanned railway level-crossings in the State, most of which are virtual deathtraps.

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