Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Something to think about the next time you catch an Indian train

I found these articles on the "Independent" & UK Telegraph websites:

15,000 die on Indian railways every year

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 22 February 2012

As anyone who has ever travelled by train in India is more than aware, when one visits the lavatory there is little between oneself and the rattling tracks below.

Not so obvious, perhaps, is the revelation that each time one uses the loo, it makes the railways a little more unsafe. The acidic content of what gets flushed, it turns out, steadily corrodes the tracks, making them unstable and unreliable.

The finding, and the recommendation that railways in India should be equipped with toilets that do not discharge directly onto the tracks, was among the contents of a report made by experts reviewing safety on the trains.

The committee said Indian Railways – which has an estimated 1.5m staff and is among the world’s largest employers – has much to do. The committee found that every year around people 15,000 die on the railways and described those fatalities as a “massacre” that was being ignored by railway authorities. About 6,000 people die on Mumbai’s crowded suburban rail network alone.

“No civilised society can accept such a massacre on their railway system,” the report said, referring to the deaths of people crossing the tracks. “Reluctance of the Indian railways to own up to the casualties, which do not fall under the purview of accidents, but are nevertheless accidents on account of trains, can by no means be ignored.”

One member of the investigation committee told the Indian Express newspaper that human excrement has corroded a significant percentage of the country’s 70,000 miles of tracks. Dr Anil Kakodkar, head of the committee, told the newspaper: “It is one of the life limiting factors...because of the pH content of the toilet discharge, there is widespread corrosion of the rails. These toilets need to be discontinued.

We also found that maintenance workers often refuse to service the undercarriage of the trains because discharge from toilets makes the undercarriage extremely dirty.”

The review committee was set up by the government last September after a spate of train accidents. An estimated 20 million people in India travel by train every day.

The report called on the government to urgently replace all railroad crossings with bridges or overpasses over the next five years.

15,000 people die every year in 'massacre' on India's train tracks

A government committee in India has accused authorities of a "massacre" after a report revealed that approximately 15,000 people die every year trying to cross the tracks of the country's mammoth rail network.

3:23PM GMT 21 Feb 2012

About 6,000 people die on Mumbai's crowded suburban rail network alone, the safety panel's report said. Another 1,000 people die when they fall from crowded coaches, when trains collide or coaches derail.

The safety panel said previous recommendations to make the world's fourth largest railway system safer had been ignored. Its report noted that railway authorities were unwilling to classify the deaths of people hit by trains while crossing the tracks as train accidents.

Most of the deaths occur at unmanned railroad crossings, said the report released over the weekend.

India's 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometres) of railway track cut through some of the most densely populated cities, flanked by shanty towns, in the nation of 1.2 billion people.

Railway experts say stopping pedestrians from crossing the tracks in congested areas would be virtually impossible.

"The situation is exceptionally dangerous in Mumbai where four or five tracks, or more, lie parallel and people living in slums on either side have no choice but to walk across the tracks," said IMS Rana, a railway expert.

The panel was especially scathing about the large number of deaths in Mumbai and recommended that the "grim situation on Mumbai's suburban system has to be tackled on a war-footing".

The High Level Safety Review Committee was set up by the government in September after a spate of train accidents. Around 20 million people in India travel by train each day.

The report called on the government to urgently replace all railroad crossings with bridges or overpasses at an estimated cost of 500 billion rupees ($10 billion) over the next five years.

"No civilized society can accept such a massacre on their railway system," the report said, referring to the crossing deaths.

"Trespassing occurs because of lack of barricading, fencing, lack of adequate number of pedestrian overbridges and lack of facilities such as sufficient number of platforms, escalators, elevators for the disabled apart from insufficient train services. These are the main reasons for the heavy human death toll," the report said.

The committee, headed by leading scientist Anil Kakodkar, blamed railway authorities for the "grim picture," saying there were lax safety standards and poor management.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The things you see

This is the scene out the front of our apartment this afternoon when we popped out for a spot of grocery shopping:

After coming back from the shops, he'd moved !! They're like dogs !!

An Aussie BBQ with a difference

Yesterday, Tania & I went to the High Commission for an Aussie BBQ, hosted by the Australian & NZ Business Association of India (ANZBAI).

Now...when you think BBQ, you think a couple of BBQ all fired up & men behind said BBQ, cooking up all sorts of tasty morsels.

Well...this BBQ was you can see from the photos, a sit down, white table cloths, silver service, all you can eat & drink buffet, in the open & on the Ambassador's back lawn.

We're doing it tough here !!

Local cows hanging at the shops

The other night, at our local shops (C-Block Markets), a herd of cows was "hanging out" (for want of a better term). Here's a photo of one of the herd:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The cows of Vasant Vihar are back !!

When our friends Jules & Don were here over Christmas, we were looking forward to showing them the local cows of Vasant Vihar. Unfortunately, the cows weren’t around for a few weeks.

Well....Jules & Don...I’m happy to say that the cows are back. Here are some recent photos taken last weekend at the local shops at Basant Lok.

Saturday cricket

Yesterday (the 11th), the Australian High Commission cricket team played a cricket match against VFS (the company Visa Facilitation Services).

The AHC easily won the match, bowling VFS out with a few overs to spare.

The trophy once again remains in the hands of the AHC.

Well done team !!

Tania & kiwi Matt (who heads home this week....we'll miss you Matt !!)

Tania & Tiana

Man of the match

Both teams

The successful AHC team

The AHC captain proudly shows off the trophy

Dumpster diving squirrels

The embassy compound has squirrels running around it (as throughout Delhi). At lunch, they hang out in the trees, watching us eat lunch & waiting for us to leave so they can then swarm over the table & munch on any of the crumbs.

They’ve now figured out that the rubbish bin by the canteen can sometimes contain bigger scraps of uneaten meals. It’s quite funny to see two or three squirrels jumping into the bin & fighting amongst themselves for the scraps, with the occasional head of one squirrel popping up.

It’s even funnier to watch as unsuspecting person dump rubbish into the bin, much to the squirrels annoyance & to the person’s surprise....I’m talking to you J.B. !!
These photos are not actually from the compound (the squirrels there never stand still long enough for you to take a photo). These photos are from a recent cricket match we went to see.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Andrews at the AHC strutting their stuff

Some recent photos of the Andrews on the compound, strutting their stuff for the Margarets.

Film photos from New Years in Rajasthan

I finally got my film photos from New Years developed (that's the thing about have to wait for the results).

I hope you like them.

Rawla Narlai

This is the view that greeted us in the morning. Didn't notice that mountain the night before !!

A view from the inner courtyard

Jules, Don & Tania

Tania taking it easy in the courtyard

Monkeys !!

The Jain Temple in Ranakpur

On the road to Udaipur

What a way to travel !!

The Palace at Udaipur

Some final images from Udaipur