Mumbai's rail fatalities tops Bhopal gas disaster-Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times

The Times, the British newspaper, used the RTI to get a break-up of Mumbai fatalities. In 2008, 3,443 out of 4,357 fatalities occurred when trains mowed down people crossing the tracks. As many as 853 fell off or were thrown off moving trains. Another 41 were hit by trackside poles while hanging out of doors, and 21 were electrocuted by overhead wires while travelling on the roof.

Cynics will say this is different from Bhopal: those crossing the tracks and riding on roofs were breaking safety regulations and exposing themselves to danger. But in Bhopal too, the Union Carbide plant was located outside the town, and illegal shanty-towns came up around it, violating safety and urban laws. Does that lessen criticism of the gas leak?

Union Carbide was lambasted for not using the best technology available to avert risks and deaths. But do we castigate the railways for not investing in the best safety technologies, and creating barriers to stop people from crossing the tracks? Union Carbide was slated for negligence in a shutdown plant. But the railways continue to be negligent year after year in a running organization that runs down people.

I'm not sure how much I agree with the comparisons used between the rails and the Bhopal tragedy here. There's a lot more than just the using the best technology and regulations, most importantly - the peoples' willingness to do the harmful.