Identifying Kerala as one of the most accidentprone sites for railway employees in the country, the Thiruvananthapuram divisional railway officers have sought steps for the immediate setting up of a Railway Medical College there.
“We have sent a proposal to the Chennai headquarters and have asked the authorities to reconsider the proposal. We have identified south of Thiruvananthapuram as the ideal location. However, the Railway Board has to take a final decision. We have also requested the authorities to appoint a consultancy firm to study the feasibility of setting up the college here,” said Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal.
The proposal for a medical college, which was mentioned in the railway budget a few years ago, had been scrapped owing to the practical difficulties. The lack of sufficient land for the medical college, to be set up exclusively by the Railways, was cited as the reason.
However, with the frequent demands made by the unions and the pressure from the representatives, the proposal has come to the fore again.
“Accidents at work sites have become common in the Railways. However, the lack of sufficient hospitals, especially in Ernakulam, has left many railway employees in the lurch once they meet with accidents. There has been a number of instances when the railway authorities had shrugged off the responsibility.
“We were told to admit ailing staff to private hospitals. However, private hospitals are hesitant to admit railway staff as there is often a delay in settling the funds by the railway management,” said P Unnikrishnan, divisional president of the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union.
In one such incident, ticket collector S Sreedevi was forced to shuttle between hospitals because the hospital management was not ready to take her case into consideration. If the railway medical college becomes a reality, it could also become a major hub for patients from all strata of society in the state.
MP Sashi Tharoor, who was not available for comments, had recommended the execution of the proposal to the railway authorities.
“Currently, the Railways has a hospital at Pettah, but the facility is not sufficient to cater to all the needs of the railway staff,” the DRM added.
If the medical college becomes a reality, it will also pave the way for the studies of aspiring medical students.