Accidental, unnatural deaths and injuries: India
TYPES OF ACCIDENTS
2011-15 (India); 2015-19 (U.P.)
ELECTROCUTION KILLS NEARLY 30 INDIANS A DAY, With inputs from Pankaj Shah and Pankul Sharma in UP, Pjoychen Pulinkalayil in Rajasthan, Amarjeet Singh in Bhopal, Chittaranjan Tembhekar and Somit Sen in Mumbai, July 27, 2019: The Times of India
Fatalities are high across states, and they are rising in many places as authorities turn a blind eye and discoms pass on the buck year after year
Saleem Saifi, 29, was on his way home when an overhead wire fell on him on a waterlogged road in Delhi’s Fatehpur Beri. Saifi was electrocuted along with passerby Hoshiar Singh who had rushed to his rescue. Both families have been distraught after losing their sole breadwinners. But the tragedy isn’t theirs alone.
Every year thousands of Indians are getting electrocuted in freak accidents on streets dotted with damaged power cables. In 2015 alone, 9,986 electrocution deaths were recorded across the nation with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan each witnessing over 1,000 casualties, according to latest data available with the National Crime Records Bureau. The numbers may be shocking but they have done little to prompt authorities into action or get them to put safety checks in place. In fact, the problem seems to be getting worse.
TOI accessed data from the Directorate of Electrical Safety (UP) which showed that electrocution deaths in the state have almost doubled in the last seven years — from 570 in 2012-13 to nearly 1,120 in 2018-19. Authorities only swing into action when something big — like when 50 kids in UP’s Balrampur district were injured after a high tension wire fell on a school — gets into national headlines. The UP government then directed officials to prepare a list of schools with high tension wires passing above them. The state now plans to shift overhead lines and strengthen power infrastructure by repairing dilapidated wires and replacing bamboo poles with conventional electricity poles. Such measures were long needed in a state where more than 5,700 people have been electrocuted in the last seven years.
Experts said that in developing countries like India, there is less awareness on safety and electric equipment is often not used as per standards laid down. While the normal distance between two electric poles should be 50 feet and pillar height at least 18 feet, these guidelines are mostly flouted. Power lines have remained above ground where they are prone to physical deterioration and outages. Gusty winds can snap even the strongest lines and towers, letting them fall on unsuspecting victims, like in a recent incident in UP’s Sambhal where four kids were electrocuted in June as a live wire fell on a tube well pool where they were bathing. Sarvesh Saini, father of two boys who perished in the incident, told TOI, “There is no joy left in our lives.”
Such heart-rending incidents can be avoided through underground cabling. European countries like Germany and Denmark have already done that. A major reason power companies resist burying wires is that it costs several times than stringing it overhead. Thus, many in India continue to reside in houses where high-tension wires are very close to the roof. In July, Riya Devyani, 10, was playing on the terrace of her house in Housing Board Colony, Ajmer, when she suffered 70% burn injuries; her right hand was amputated.
In Madhya Pradesh, high tension wires electrocuted 1,708 in 2016. Sukhveer Singh, MD of Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company Limited (MPPMCL), said people are advised to build houses at safe distance from power lines yet only a few heed this warning. According to chief personnel officer of Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam, Rakesh Sharma, 293 electrocution deaths and 108 injuries recorded in Rajasthan in 2018-19 were attributed to negligence of power companies. In April and May 2019, power firms have been held responsible for 63 fatalities.
2004-15, 17: unnatural deaths
While road and rail accidents contribute the chunk of avoidable deaths, incidents involving explosions and house collapse, mostly as a result of regulatory lapses at factories and in construction, too, account for a sizeable number of such casualties. Further, National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data for 2004-2015 shows that falls and electrocution were big killers. each claiming over 1 lakh lives during the 12-year period.
After roads, drowning is the second-largest killer, accounting for more than 3 lakh deaths between 2004-2015. While over 8,000 people were killed because their boat capsized, the remaining deaths were caused by people accidentally falling into water bodies. The data shows that like traffic accidents, cases of death by drowning also increased over the years.
In 2004, drowning caused over 21,000 deaths with figure increasing to about 30,000 for 2015. “It has been noticed that there are certain spots where drowning incidents are common. But because of various administrative issues very little can be done about these spots. For instance, the Bawana canal in outer Delhi has steep walls on both sides at several spots; a person who accidently falls into the canal will have little chance of climbing back. Because of administrative issues, very little can be done to rectify that”, said a senior official.
Railway tracks and crossings are deadly spots, too. Between 2004 and 2015, over 26,000 lives were lost in accidents at railway crossings alone. A senior IAS officer says that the removal of illegal structures that stand alongside railway tracks can significantly reduce the number of such deaths. However, these constructions prove difficult to remove because of political reasons. Other major causes of avoidable deaths are fire, falls and electrocution, each of which kills lakhs of people.
All accidents are avoidable, but the Amritsar tragedy would rank among the most avoidable ones. If only organisers of the event had appealed to the people to get off the railway tracks, instead of lauding them for being there. If only the train could have been stopped or slowed. If only the effigy was lit a few minutes later. Any of these could have saved 59 lives on Friday evening.
Ironically the count of avoidable deaths—classified as unnatural accidents by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)—is very high in India.
Such accidents killed more than 39 lakh people between 2004 and 2015. Accidents at railway tracks and crossings alone caused over 26,000 deaths during the period, that’s six deaths a day.
Among deaths caused by unnatural accidents, road mishaps are the largest killer, claiming about 15 lakh lives during the 12-year period. In 2015 — the latest year for which data is available — about 1.5 lakh people were killed in road accidents, a figure 64% higher than road accident fatalities in 2004.
“Faulty traffic engineering and poor enforcement, awareness and regulation are to be blamed for many of these accidents”, said a senior IPS officer, who added that weather conditions and topography further contribute to making many spots accident prone. After roads, drowning is the second-largest killer, accounting for more than 3 lakh deaths between 2004-2015. Other major causes of avoidable deaths are fire, falls and electrocution, each of which kills lakhs of people.
See graphic, 'Accidental deaths: 2004-13'
2013: an increase in accidental deaths
34% of accidental deaths take place on roads
The Times of India Jul 01 2014
More people died of accidental causes in 2013 than the previous one with men out-numbering women in all kinds of such casualties except `fire accidents'. The latest data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2013 shows that a total of 4,00,517 people died of accidental deaths in 2013, an increase of 1.4% over the previous year.
Road accidents continue to be the major cause of unnatural accidental deaths recording 34.3% of all deaths, followed by `sudden deaths' (7.8%), `drowning' (7.5%), `poisoning' (7.3%), `railway accidents' (7.2%) and `fire accidents' (5.5%).
In the last category , 65.7% of those killed were females, as compared to 34.3% males.
The data show that the rate of deaths per thousand vehicles has decreased from 1.4 in 2009 to 0.9 in 2013, but is highest in Bihar and Sikkim at 1.6 followed by West Bengal at 1.5.
The rate of accidental deaths (per lakh of population) remained unchanged at 32.8 in 2016 as compared to 2015, though in absolute terms accidental deaths across the country rose to around 4.18 lakh from 4.13 lakh. However, both the rate of suicides and its absolute numbers declined from 10.6 to 10.3 and 1.34 lakh to 1.31 lakh respectively between 2015 and 2016.
According to data on ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’ for the year 2016 released by NCRB, a total of 8,684 persons died all over India due to causes attributable to the forces of nature, while over 4.09 lakh persons were killed in accidents due to other causes, including deliberate or negligent conduct of human beings.
Out of 8,684 accidental deaths attributable to forces of nature in 2016, 38.2% deaths occurred due to lightning, 15.4% due to heat/sun stroke and 8.9% deaths due to floods. Regarding the 4.09 lakh persons killed accidentally due to “other causes”, traffic accidents accounted for 43.4% deaths, sudden deaths for 10.2%, drowning 7.3%, poisoning 5.6%, falls for 4.2% and accidental fires for 4.1% deaths.
As per the latest NCRB data, suicide rate in cities was higher at 13 than the all-India rate of 10.3. Nearly 68.4% of the males and 64.4% of the females who committed suicide were married.
2014: Accidents claim more lives than natural calamities
The Times of India,,Jul 21 2015
Human error a bigger killer in India than natural calamities
In 2014, over 3L lives lost in accidents
Over 15 times more people die in human error-induced (unnatural) accidents than natural calamities almost every year. Among the unnatural causes of accidents, drowning and accidental fire killed most people after road or rail accidents in 2014. Latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that while 20,000 people died in natural calamities across the country in 2014, human error claimed 3,16,828 lives. While majority of these people (about 1.7 lakh) died in traffic accidents, drowning killed close to 30,000 people to become the second biggest killer. Accidental fire took the third spot claiming about 20,000 lives.
For the first time, the NCRB has segregated the `unnatural causes' data into two categories -one which involves hu man error and `other causes' involving incidents such as heart attack, death during pregnancy , animal attacks and hooch tragedies among others.In the `other' category , NCRB has recorded 1.15 lakh deaths.Earlier these data were part of unnatural causes'.
Human error-induced accidental deaths have been increasing every year registering a growth of over 22% in he past 10 years. If the `others' category -segregated his year -is added to this, he increase is of over 66% since 2004. The positive, however, is that deaths due to natural calamities have been contained to an average of 20,000 since 2004. In the past 10 years, deaths in this category ncreased by only 6%. Given hat the population during his period increased by over 14%, this is an achievement that successive governments can be proud of. It is in a way also a reflection of improving capability of disaster mitigation measures and response.
When adjusted to population growth, deaths due to natural calamities show a declining trend over the past 10 years. The opposite of human error-induced accidents.
According to the NCRB, the rate of accidental deaths (both natural and unnatural) -per 1 akh population -has grown from 25 in 2004 to 36 in 2014. Given that the rate of deaths in natural causes has been declining, it shows badly on human error deaths -primarily traffic accidents, drowning and fire. This points to both lack of public awareness and the government's failure to make such places safe for public.
Accidental, unnatural deaths and injuries: India