Kadugodi is a locality in Whitefield, Bangalore in the state of Karnataka.Daily pedestrian deaths have triggered a cry for a safe crossing system to once and for all end these people’s nightmare existence. The compassion of Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi has been transformed into this quite passionate call upon the ears of anyone who will hear and perhaps respond by encouraging his government officials to solve the towns severe unnecessary rising death toll.
How many more deaths we need before a pedestrian over bridge at Kadugodi?
Every morning and evening residents of Kadugodi witness very sad scenes at this major point of Whitefield.
The railway crossing connecting Kadugodi population with the Bus stand and Railway Station is causing lot of difficulties for all. At any given time there will be at least one or two goods trains with endless carriages, waiting for signal.
It makes life difficult for all age a difficult process to cross over. It is extremely difficult in the morning as one rush to the bus stand to reach office, school or college. Children and aged have to squeeze down or walk all the way till the end and then cross over.
At night time, there is absolutely no light making it all the more difficult. Add to these the perils of no light and difficult terrain are human and animal feces.
Recently a series of deaths happened and authorities, as usual came out with interim measures like police posting, and an offer of a pedestrian over bridge construction soon. But, it all died down, and now we do not see any police and the story of the long trains blocking the smooth passage of the population continues once again.
All responsible authorities are aware of this, but they find it interesting to pass the blame from one responsible shoulder to another.
This is a serious safety issue that affects the normal movement general public in and around Kadugodi and Whitefield, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, old or young, man or women.
Thus, through this community report, I request authorities to kindly stop having a callous approach to this citizen problem.
A senior railway official, who responded, informs that no provision was available in the old estimate of road over bridge, to construct foot over bridge at the above location. This might be due to the reason that the old estimate for the road over bridge was prepared long ago and at that time, there might not be so much development at Whitefield and so much requirement to cross the tracks so often by such a huge populace. The role of Railways is only to the extent of providing an unhindered path for road vehicles in the interest of closing the level crossing. Land at the level crossing belongs to railways. Providing a separate path for road vehicles is in fact the requirement of road users. Railways, though not obliged, have agreed to execute the work as well as to share the cost of work with BBMP with the only interest of closing the level crossing to avoid the recurring expenditure of maintenance of level crossing once for all. When there was public demand to construct foot over bridge, as Railways have already constructed road over bridge, it was expected that BBMP would come forward to fund the cost of the foot over bridge. Finally, when BBMP has agreed for the same, Railways have invited tender for the same without any delay and opened the same, though the funds have not been deposited by BBMP. Invitation of tender without availability of funds, which is normally not done, was done in the instant case only in the interest of expeditious completion of the work.
It was reported by security authorities that either one or both of the deceased were talking over mobile phone during the time of the incident on 02nd Jan 2013. Only God knows the truth. He wants us to understand that in the entire episode, there was no apathy, there were no petty egos and there was no inability to act on the part of Railways. He continues that we are a better Judge to know where the delay took place. Please go into facts in detail before blaming any particular authority. Railways have not received the funds for the above work from BBMP till date and we are continuously chasing for the same. At the same time, we are taking care to see that the agency does not stop the work, though it cannot get payment of a single rupee till the fund is deposited with Railways. As a concerned citizen, he likes us to do something about this.
We as citizen who are affected continue with our following plea to BBMP and Railway.
Mr. Ajiyos Yohannan from IBM who is a resident of Golden Blossom Apartments situated close to this railway crossing and a regular user of this pathway is surprised to know note that there are no specifications for the width of road over bridge, even now, as the official conveyed to us. There is also no process for correction of old plan based on the present needs. In fact, the actual work of this over-bridge happened only recently. No pedestrian convenience requirements were considered at the execution stage. After the construction of this over bridge, seeing the practicality, railway engineers should have avoided digging the road between the tracks for pedestrians. It has to be noted that the same difficult pathway is used by government staff of railway, police and BMTC without any choice.
Mr. Balasubramaniam, a retired NABARD official, who now lives in Golden Blossom apartments is more worried about the dangers waiting on this path for elderly people. He feels that a proactive action from Railways will be to move the parked goods wagons by 50 meters towards Chennai side of tracks by a suitable arrangement, thereby clearing the obstruction of path at the level crossing. Wagons parked overnight and for long hours hinders the crossing of tracks with view of both sides being blocked for pedestrians. Aged persons, children, women are often found to be crawling beneath the parked wagons to cross to the other sides and others climb over the wagons risking their lives. The wagons parked beyond the crossing necessitates the people to walk on the tracks and there could be oversight or even negligence when crossing resulting in loss of precious lives.
Mr. L N Sethumadhvan, a retired senior official from L&T reiterates the same concern as he arrives at Whitefield Railway station from Kerala to visit his son and family often and uses the BMTC bus station to reach their home. The two sides where one needs to cross are not easy as there is hardly any space between the wagons and the huge mud bund, particularly when there is a rush of many people who arrive by buses to move on to the village and apartment blocks. In addition, there is gutter and water filth everywhere. There is also no lighting too on the entire stretch resulting in poor vision for all. He emphasize that the safety of women, which is currently attracting highest attention of Government, any proactive and speedier action to provide lights in the vicinity of crossing will be highly appreciated.
Mr Jayant Bhatt, an IT professional residing in Kadugodi village concurs with the suggestion that a concrete pathway which had existed earlier before the closure of the railway crossing enabled people to cross faster and also safely. The temporary posting of security personnel should be continued during rush hours till the over-bridge is completed. Immediate measures should be made to implement minor adjustments in parking of the long goods trains so that people will get sufficient gap to cross.
Even young people like Sai Srivas, a medical student of Vydehi Medical college and Suraj Menon, who is an engineering student of MVJ college finds it too difficult and dangerous as they have to use the crossing to get across to the bus station to reach their colleges and back home each day.
Even a small lack of concentration or focus will end up in an accident and is a genuine fear for parents each day.
For Deepika Bhatt and Manisha, two young ladies working in the IT sector residing at Kadugodi and working in the other end of the city, this crossing is important as they do not have other alternative to reach the bus station. While they return from work in the evening, the fear of crossing the track without injuring themselves by a fall or on coming train, they have to also safeguard personally from anti-social elements due to poor lighting.
These are only a few amongst the thousands who uses this crossing every day. There are several patients and bystanders who visits various prominent hospitals in the Whitefield region and have no other alternatives other than to use this route to reach their destinations. There are several students and workers who catch bus and train to reach Whitefield and forced to cross over using this path. Visitors from various states reaching by train and bus to the numerous apartment complexes surrounding Whitefield area and Kadugodi in particular are all silent sufferers and victims. Often we get to hear a friend’s elderly father or mother with a fractured leg due to a fall while crossing this path.
We all understand that many of the above things do not come under the responsibility of railways. However, the public who are forced to cross the tracks do not have any alternative. The narrow road over bridge is very scary especially for women carrying small kids. Could this be done by Railway authorities as an interim measure besides the above suggestion of moving the wagons a little beyond.
We all appreciate Railways good intention and any sort of help from Railways to minimize the problem, until BBMP acts in the matter.
At the same time, we urge BBMP to act without any delay in progressing the work before we hear of another tragedy. I also seek support of all resident associations, corporate organizations and their staff and political parties, irrespective of any difference in ideologies to support in this cry for the need of a safe system to cross over. Otherwise, for residents of Kadugodi, the way to bus stand is always going to be down and under.