it’s criminal

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Aug 2017 11:43:07

IF THE accident caused to the Kalinga Utkal Express train in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening is a case of gross ground level negligence, then, to say the least, it is criminal. Harshest punishment needs to be handed out to those responsible for causing human deaths and destruction of Railway property. Railway Minister Mr. Ramesh Prabhu has ordered the Railway Board to fix responsibility and initiate immediate action against those found prima facie guilty of negligence in discharging their duty. The Railway Board on its part, in an unprecedented action, has sent on leave or suspended senior officers, including a Secretary level officer in the Railway establishment. According to the spokesman of the Railways the action against these senior officers is meant to send a message that anybody fudging with the safety of the travelling public will be dealt with severely. 

While deeper investigation in the accident will bring out truth in the matter and responsibilities will be fixed and cases launched against them in a very routine manner, these accidents raise again and again the issue of the safety of the travelling passengers. Whenever such derailments take place, causing huge number of deaths of travelling passengers and destruction of Railway property, the very first suspect is sabotage, caused either by internal enemies, like the Maoists, or the terrorists working for alien forces. But in the case of the Utkal Express derailment, in which 23 lives have been lost and over 90 have been injured, there is increasing evidence of negligence on the part of the maintenance staff who had been doing repair work on the track.

The Railway administration has itself admitted that the accident was caused due to the negligence of the maintenance staff working on the ground. That the workers left the half repaired tracks without putting any warning sign for oncoming trains or without alerting the Station Master, is criminal. That there was no communication between the maintenance staff and the Station Master of the concerned Railway station is simply unpardonable and calls for immediate dismissal of all the concerned people.

The video clip involving conversation between a railway employee and media person, which has gone viral on the net, should offer some clues over the whole issue of negligence by the maintenance staff. The employee has claimed that the maintenance staff had left the place without fixing the block, leaving a gap in the track and also leaving their equipment between the tracks. Clearly the maintenance personnel behaved in a most irresponsible manner and failed to discharge their duty with the responsibility that the job demanded of them. There is a likelihood of buck-passing among different authorities. But that should be nipped in the bud.

The Indian Railways system is one of the biggest in the world with lakhs of trains running on its vast network of tracks spread through the length and breadth of the country, carrying crores of passengers and millions of tonnes freight. It is precisely because of this vastness of the network safety of rail users should remain the foremost concern for every man who is part of this gigantic transportation exercise. But there come occasions when question marks are raised over efficiency of the railway system in ensuring the safety of the travelling public. Accidents like the Utkal Express bring to the fore issue of safety every time.

At a time when the Railway Minister has chalked out some ambitious development, expansion and modernisation plans, involving thousands of crores of rupees and technology upgradation is being sought from countries like Japan, China and several other advanced countries, accidents tend to put a damper on all such efforts. They raise the issue of safety again and again.