People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

October 31, 2010


Metro Rail Disaster Narrowly Averted


B Prasant


THE 9 AM metro had had a late start.  It was a working day.  The compartments were packed to capacity—standing room only and that too getting filled up quite soon.  There was one big, juddering crash. There was a flash of intense blue flame.  The train jumped the tracks.  It would not stay stuck on the electrified third rail.  Otherwise all the passengers, 200-odd, and the crew, would all of them been electrocuted.


The railway minister was dismissive. This was a minor incident. So many accidents happen now-a-days.  So many people die.  They pop off every day, now, don’t they?  Dry words....  Careless.... Disdainful of lives....  This was typical of her. 


What of the 50-odd left injured in the metro near-disaster?  What of the hundred-odd suffering from acute shock syndrome.  What indeed of the substance called safety?  Is the ill-will of running away with the poll results come 2011 that much important?  Must she go on with her metro extension psychosis regardless of everything? Would she and her outfit dare believe that deceiving the people and playing with their lives would fetch political dividends?


The rescue efforts on that day saved the lives of the panic-struck passengers and the efforts were the sole credit to the Disaster Management Team of the Bengal Left Front government. They prised open the emergency doors. They virtually carried most of the passengers away from the train, fearing a buckling of the compartments any time.  They provided the initial medical attention.


This was on October 21.  The next day, a morning metro jangled to a halt.  The motor had gone awry.  The Railway minister was dismissive, so what is new?





BIMAN Basu, CPI(M) Bengal state secretary called the bluff of Trinamuli chief Mamata Banarjee’s blustering if somewhat nostalgic demand that Article 356 be imposed on Bengal because of ‘deterioration of the law-and-order situation.’  She had also told a section of the fawning media that the CPI(M) workers were engaged in wearing ‘khaki uniforms’ and terrorising, killing the people.


Biman Basu started by recalling to the mind of the media persons present during a briefing at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in Kolkata during the afternoon of October 24 that the Trinamuli chief had called for such an imposition Article 356 time after time.  Nothing had happened so far.  Nothing will happen now, and so, what is new?


Biman Basu directly noted that the Trinamuli chief and her gang of rag-tag villains whom she lets loose on the CPI(M) in particular but on the democratic masses in general, were responsible for the acts of anarchy committed on the people of the state. 

It was a well-known fact, the senior CPI(M) leader pointed out, that in the recent past there were plenty of instances where the so-called ‘Maoists,’ along with their Trinamul touts were caught on camera wearing jungle fatigues of olive-green-and-brown-patches.  Who are wearing the uniform and killing CPI(M) workers and the common poor folk then, was Biman Basu’s rhetorical askance.


Squarely questioning the manner in which the Indian Railways was presently, and for sometime now, run, Biman Basu noted that a slack management and in this instance, the slackness started from the level of the concerned minister herself, plus a lack of maintenance of even the most basic kind have caused accidents to happen, people to get killed, and the reputation of the Indian Railways as one of the finest and the safest networks in south Asia and beyond to be ruined and besmirched. He criticised the unwillingness to build up a viable infrastructural network for the Railways.


The metro rail, Biman Basu continued, needed especial care of different nature.  Since the network lies and runs deep underground, maintenance was always a quickening priority vis-a-vis the above-ground network. The frequency of maintenance is crucial here.  This was ignored in the search for greater glory of rightist political sort.


Putting on daubs of garish paint, and renaming metro stations while stretching the unmanaged sources to the limit and beyond, and then politically conspiring to blame the CPI(M) for the ills plaguing the Indian Railways was condemnable beyond contempt -- and the CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front would continue to reach out to the people to tell them the tragic story of the unravelling of the Railways under the present tenure of Trinamuli chief's dispensation.