Amritsar train tragedy adds to India's lakhs of avoidable deaths
Much has been said about the Amritsar train tragedy, but what remains crystal clear is that the accident could have been easily avoided. Ironically, however, such accidents or avoidable deaths - classified as unnatural deaths by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) - have a massive count in India, going up to several lakhs. Here are the details.
In last 12 years, India saw 39 lakh avoidable deaths
According to NCRB data, there were a whopping 39,21,447 avoidable deaths recorded between 2004 and 2015. Among these, road accidents claimed the maximum number of lives, being responsible for 14.5 lakh deaths. Drowning accounted for 3.2 lakh deaths, whereas railway accidents (barring crossing accidents) accounted for 2.9 lakh deaths. Meanwhile, fires were responsible for killing another 2.5 lakhs, while falls killed another 1.4 lakh.
Road accident deaths increased by 64% between 2004 and 2015
As far as road accidents are concerned, data also revealed a disturbing trend. It was found that in 2015, the latest year for which data is available, 1.5 lakh people died of road accidents - a 64% increase over road accident deaths in 2004. Commenting on the figures, a senior IPS officer told ToI that faulty traffic engineering, poor enforcement, bad regulation, etc. contributed to the increasing deaths.
More than 26,000 people died at railway crossings
Meanwhile, as far as railway accidents are concerned, the 2.9 lakh lives lost between 2004 and 2015 were mostly resultant of accidents like derailments. These apart, around 26,000 lives were lost in accidents at railway crossings alone, a figure to which the Amritsar train tragedy contributes. Officials said that crossing deaths could be minimized by removing illegal structures beside railway tracks. However, such removal faces political obstacles.
Deaths from fires, structure collapses etc. could have been avoided
While not much can be done about deaths resulting from drowning and falling, fires and related disasters are mostly man-made. Apart from the 2.5 lakh deaths from fires, NCRB data also showed that between 2004 and 2015, over 1 lakh people died of electrocution, while more than 30,000 perished in structure collapses. These deaths could have been easily avoided through strict regulation in factories and construction sites.
Awareness is key to avoiding unnatural deaths in India
"Since we are a developing country, our safety and threat perception is far lower than that of advanced countries. In many cases, such [avoidable] deaths can be avoided by running awareness campaigns," an IAS officer told ToI.