Life in a Metro
Delhi Metro has just completed a decade-and-half of operations. It goes without saying that the Metro is today the city’s lifeline and the national Capital would come to a complete halt if the Metro were to be caught in a jam. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which had built the transport system and operates it too, has been certified by the United Nations as the first metro rail and rail-based system in the world to get “carbon credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions” and helping in reducing pollution levels in the city by 630,000 tonnes every year. The pollution levels in the city would have been worse if the world’s 12th largest metro system in terms of both length and number of stations were not operational. The network consists of five colour-coded regular lines and the faster Airport Express line, with a total length of 213 kilometres serving 160 stations (including six on Airport Express line). Given the high level of ridership, having made a record of over 30 lakh passengers using the facility on a single day last August, managing Metro’s security is a humungous job. Since 2007 the security of the facility has been with the specialised Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The biggest headache for the security personnel manning the metro stations has been the jaywalkers, as CISF detected more than 400 cases of unauthorised walking on tracks of the rail network this year. During 2016, the rail network that carries an average of 26 lakh passengers per day, saw at least 88 suicide attempts during the period; 12 were successful. The CISF reported that more than 340 people were fined for jaywalking on tracks. Officials said those caught on tracks were diagnosed with depression, in some cases were inebriated while others were trespassing or just jaywalking on the rails. Out of the 88 suicide incidents detected, 12 resulted in death while 11 were intercepted by CISF personnel, 20 were saved due to timely intervention by people around, and 45 were rushed to hospitals with injuries. To curb illegal trespassing and suicide attempts, the CISF undertakes surveillance operations regularly and deploys male and female personnel in plain clothes to keep an eye on anyone exhibiting suspicious behaviour. However, howsoever vigilant the force may become it cannot be expected to handle the cases of depression except by physically preventing the affected people from taking the extreme step, if at all detected. The matter would have to be handled by those looking after the mental health of the city, especially focusing on increasing number of cases of depression and their attempt to end lives on the metro lines. This is needed to be handled at an urgent level as such attempts don’t only disrupt regular operations bringing discomfort to a large number of commuters but also disrepute to a world class facility. It would be worthwhile to find out if Delhi Metro, which keeps competing with other metros worldwide for prime space in matters of facilities, also has the dubious distinction of being high on the number of passengers committing suicide. One is sure that Delhi would certainly not love to live with this kind of a tag for its much loved Metro.