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Last surviving victim of 2006 Mumbai blasts dies

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Mumbai: After remaining in a coma for several years, the last of the injured survivors of serial blasts on Mumbai suburban trains on July 11, 2006, died here early Tuesday, officials said.

A Bhayander resident, Parag Sawant, 36, had sustained serious head injuries and brain trauma in a blast on one such train.

He is survived by his wife Priti and eight-year-old daughter Praniti. Sawant never saw his only child as she was born after he went into a coma. His wife was given a job in the Indian Railways to help sustain the family.

During is long stay at the hospital, Parag Sawant became a popular figure among the people for his will to live. He regained consciousness briefly in 2008, and was visited by personalities like former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani and union minister Sushma Swaraj.

The 7/11 serial blasts on Mumbai suburban trains were carried out in a time span of barely 11 minutes, targetting crowded suburban train services during evening peak hours.

As many as 209 commuters were killed and more than 700 others injured as bombs kept in pressure cookers went off in north-bound locals of the Western Railway at Bhayander, Borivali, Jogeshwari, Khar Road, Bandra, Mahim and Matunga Road. One unexploded bomb was found by police and defused at Borivali.

Then aged 27, Sawant was travelling in a Churchgate-Virar train to his home when a bomb ripped apart a coach near Bhayander, a suburban town in adjoining Thane district.

He was rushed to Bhaktivedanta Hospital on Mira Road and later shifted to P.D. Hinduja Hospital in south Mumbai.

He remained in a coma for about two years, said consultant neurosurgeon Dr. B.K. Misra, who attended on him.

“His condition gradually improved to a semi-conscious state, in which he understood simple commands. He underwent multiple operations for brain treatment and was thereafter on supportive care and physiotherapy for a few years,” Misra recalled.

A nurse had checked on Sawant early Tuesday, and found him stable. However, at around 6 a.m., the oxygen level in his blood dropped and he was put on oxygen to stabilise his breathing.

“He suffered sudden cardio-respiratory arrest, after which a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation team took all measures to revive him but in vain. Parag Sawant was declared dead at 6:54 a.m due to cardio-respiratory arrest. The most likely cause of immediate deterioration in his condition is pulmonary embolism,” Misra said.

Hospital director and senior medico Sanjay Agarwala said the staff rendered utmost care to Sawant during his stay at the hospital for almost nine years.

“I am sad to hear the news. In fact, last week, I was discussing with his family members my plans to visit Parag at the hospital on the ninth anniversary of the 7/11 blasts on Saturday. His family and Parag took the tragedy bravely,” said Kirit Somaiya, BJP parliamentarian from Mumbai North-East.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Indian Railways Will Promote Heritage Tourism By Preserving Its Metre-Gauge Tracks

The trains are allowed to run at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour, which reduces to 20 km per hour in accident-prone areas.

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Indian Railways
Indian Railways. Wikimedia Commons

Moving beyond the five hill networks that are major tourist attractions, Indian Railways is planning to also preserve its old five-metre gauge tracks built during its early days in the British era to promote heritage tourism.

“As part of the strategy to preserve the metre-gauge lines, Indian Railways is planning to preserve few metre-gauge lines, which have the potential to attract more tourists,” a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Indian railways presented an integrated mobile application to cater to various passenger requirements, including ticket booking, inquiry, on-board cleaning and ordering meal on a single platform.
Indian Railways to promote tourism by preserving its meter gauge tracks.

“The decision to preserve the metre-gauge lines was taken at a meeting on February 3. Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, stressing on the need to preserve the metre-gauge lines to promote the heritage structures of Indian Railways, asked the officials to identify such railway tracks on which the tourism can be promoted,” the official said.

“Thus we have identified five lines for preservation — the 42.27 km Visavadar-Talala line in Gujarat, the 16 km Mhow-Patalpani-Kalakand line in Madhya Pradesh, the 162 km Mavli Junction-Marwar Junction line in Rajasthan, the 171 km Nanpur-Mailani line in Uttar Pradesh and the 47 km Mahur-Harangjao metre-gauge line in Assam,” he said.

Also Read: Facts about Indian Railways you can’t miss

“Four of the metre-gauge lines are in working condition, while the one line located in Assam is not operational right now,” he added. The official also said that the Railway Ministry has written to the zonal railways to check the operational feasibility of these tracks. “Once the response from zonal railways is received by the third week of April, the ministry will formally launch the project,” he said.

Giving details of some of the five lines, the official said: “The Visavadar-Talala metre-gauge line passes through the Gir forest in Gujarat and there is thus a speed restriction. Currently, only three trains pass through this section in the day.”

The Mhow-Patalpani-Kalakund line, the official said, passes through picturesque mountains, valleys, tunnels, ravines and crosses the Choral and Malendi rivers, which makes the journey very memorable, especially after the rains.

Facts about Indian Railways you shouldn't miss. Wikimedia Common
Indian Railways have many tracks and trains with historic importance. Wikimedia Common

According to the official, this line was laid by the British about 150 years ago and passes through of the Vindhyachal mountain range. The official said that the Nanpur-Mailani metre-gauge railway track in Uttar Pradesh crosses through the Dudhwa Tiger reserve. The Railways currently operates six trains on the section. The trains are allowed to run at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour, which reduces to 20 km per hour in accident-prone areas.

The British laid this track in the 19th century for transporting timber from Nepal’s forests and from the forests on the border. Currently, the five hill trains — Darjeeling Himalayan train, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Kangra Valley Railway and Matheran Hill Railway — are a major attraction for tourists in India. IANS