(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 25, 2010
IGNORING RAIL SAFETY
Playing with People’s Lives
YET another rail accident has claimed over 60 lives and has left over a hundred seriously injured. Yet another conspiracy theory has been woven by the union railway minister. It is, indeed, a shame for our country that we have, in the present political leadership of UPA-II government, ministers for whom precious human life comes so cheap that death does not even merit a thoughtful moment of human sadness and sympathy. Sabotage theories have come even before the customary expression of pretensions of remorse on such occasions. The railway board, following the cue from the minister, has declared that it does not rule out sabotage with its chairman hinting at “willful interference”.
Between May 2009 when this UPA-II government assumed office and July 2010, there have been 16 major rail accidents in which at least 269 people lost their lives and over a thousand seriously injured. If all minor incidents are taken into account, then there have been 162 accidents since May 2009 in which 428 people died.
Absolving herself of any
responsibility or moral torment, the railway minister, at the accident
said, “I am suspicious about the cause of the accident.
We have some doubt in our mind. Whatever
happened is not a casual thing. We will
take strong steps against those who
are behind this.” On May 28, 2010,
following the derailment and collision of the Jnaneswari Express in
On this occasion of the collision of the Uttar Banga Express with the Vananchal Express, the union home ministry shot down the railway minister’s suspicion on the cause of the collision, which hinted at foul play. The home ministry officials have said that the accident pointed to a system failure where both man and equipment failed. This is the second time that the union home ministry has negated the claim of the railway minister. It had earlier ruled out the use of explosives, which the railway minister so promptly announced, in the collision of the Jnaneswari Express.
Undeterred, the railway
her Trinamul Congress (TMC) continues to churn out conspiracy theories
targeting the CPI(M) and the Left. The
Jnaneswari Express accident, we are told, occurred just two days before
municipal elections in
This accident, as with the string of others, leaves many important questions unanswered. All of these have been widely reported and, hence, need no repetition. All of these, however, point to a massive systems failure during the last one year. And, all invariably point to the lack of the required concentration and attention to efficiently and safely run the world’s largest railway network. The Indian railways today transports over 18 million passengers a day apart from large-scale transportation of goods and freight. Safety on the railways has, obviously, been neglected. Nearly 90,000 sanctioned posts remain vacant as the railways under the union minister fails to find time for these appointments. Shockingly, over 20,000 of these are directly related to safety! The anti-collision devise (ACD) which automatically prevents train collisions was curiously developed by the former managing director of Konkan railways when the current railway minister was the minister in an earlier stint. The Konkan railways, today, uses the ACDs. Yet today, during the course of this entire year, the railways have not found the time or the inclination to introduce these in its all-India network.
This is importantly
another count as well. The prime minister
has repeatedly declared that Maoist
violence constitutes the single gravest threat to
In the interest of the country, its internal security, in the interest of the safety of nearly two crores of people who use the railways every day, it is high time that the UPA-II government and the prime minister take a call. The country cannot afford and the people do not tolerate the continued lack of accountability that jeopardises the safety of both the country and the people.
(July 21, 2010)