Mumbai, Jul 8: Accident-prevention measures promised couple of years back are still not in place; KR route continues to be a death-trap
Nature’s fury and wrath are bad enough but administrative neglect is making matters worse for Konkan Railway (KR) passengers. Their fate hangs in the balance with the Railway Ministry showing a cold shoulder to this accident-prone section in its populist Budget. Since no provision has been made to prevent accidents - incidentally, a common feature on this track during monsoon – the KR may be remembered as a death trap, if immediate corrective steps are not taken.
It may be recalled that around 100 people lost their lives about a couple years ago in two major accidents that occurred within a span of one year.
Immediately after the tragic accident on June 16, 2004, the Railway authorities decided to provide steel nets on either side of the track to prevent landslide. Apart from this Konkan Railway Corporation decided to procure early warning system for landslide, inclinometers (used in soil) and anti-collision devices.
Alarmed by two major accidents, KR administration demanded Rs 16 crore for implementation of these safety measures. But the Budget, which was presented by the Railway Minister, ignored this demand putting the administration in a fix.
When contacted, Minister of state for Railways Narayanbhai Rathava, refused to comment on budgetary provisions. He said, “To set up safety devices on the track was decided and approved by the Railway Ministry. As per the decision we have undertaken the work of fixing of high strength and medium strength boulder nets. We will try to complete this work.”
When pointed out that there was no provision for these works in the budget, he said, “We have got approval from the ministry and I am sure the work will be completed.”
Sources in Konkan Railway Corporation said that the approval was given immediately after the accident. As per the approval, necessary provision was expected in the Budget, but unfortunately nothing is mentioned in the entire Budget as far as this action plan is concerned.
According to Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament from Rajapur constituency, “It seems the announcement of Railway Minister after the accident was an exercise to avoid public outrage. I will raise this issue in the house and force the government to sanction the amount for this work as per the announcement.”
With the zero provision in the budget, work of providing safety measures is in the doldrums. Till then, this track will be more known as the death trap. For how long? Well, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav should know better.