NEW DELHIi: The Supreme Court has made it mandatory for the railways to keep oxygen cylinders in all trains to ensure that the life-saving gas could be provided to travellers suffering from respiratory problems in case of emergency. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also directed the railways to take assistance of doctors from AIIMS to explore ways to put in place a system in moving trains to provide medical treatment to travellers if they take ill. "The railways shall keep oxygen cylinders in trains so that anyone suffering from any respiratory problem can be given aid. If any passenger or his/her companion complains to the ticket collector or the attendant that he has some medical problem and immediate attention is required, it shall be the duty of the said officials to intimate the next railway station so that he/she can be given necessary medical assistance at the next railway station where the hospital is situated," the bench said.
The court passed the order on an appeal filed by the Centre challenging the Rajasthan high court's order directing the railways to provide a team of one medical officer, one nurse and one attendant in all long-distance trains to cater to the medical needs of passengers.
The government contended that it was not feasible to deploy doctors in trains and it was also not possible to install machines for medical check-up of sick passengers. It contended that it had launched a pilot project for providing medical treatment to passengers on moving trains, but it failed. "During the pilot project, it was noted that serious patients could not be treated on board and had to be de-trained for medical treatment at a hospital only because the medical equipment, such as ECG machines etc. do not function properly on the trains due to noise/vibration...," senior advocate Ajit Sinha, appearing for the Centre, told the bench.
Sinha informed the apex court that the railways had also tried to set up a chemist stall with an attendant doctor at some stations but the project was scrapped as it was not successful.
The bench, after recording his statements, said more steps needed to be taken to provide medical assistance to passengers on moving trains and directed it the take assistance of senior doctors of AIIMS in this regard.