In yet another major mishap, at least 39 people died and over 55 injured after the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. The incident took place around 11.30 pm on Saturday nearly 160 km away from Visakhapatnam, while it was travelling towards Bhubaneswar.
Four accident relief vans were sent, and rescuers battled all night to pull out the survivors from the wreckage. The injured were rushed to hospitals at Parvathipuram and Rayagada. While 13 out of the 22 coaches remained unaffected, nine coaches and the engine left the tracks near the Kuneru station. According to the officials of East Coast Railways, death toll may rise further
While the cause of the derailment is yet to be ascertained, JP Mishra, the spokesperson for East Coast Railways, said at a press conference that the probe on the accident is underway in which it would not rule out “any angle including sabotage.”
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced a solatium worth Rs 2 lakh each for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu, has also announced Rs 5 lakh solatium for the families of the deceased who belonged to Andhra Pradesh.
Not the first accident
The Indian Railways, the backbone of country’s transport system, has been facing a major setback due to the growing number of train accidents recently. This is the third occasion of railway derailments in the last two months. In November 2016, at least 150 people were killed when the Indore-Patna Express derailed in Kanpur. Two people reportedly died, and over 50 passengers were injured after 15 coaches of the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailed near Rura Railway Station in Kanpur Rural district.
According to a Railway Board official, there were 68 derailments until December 2016, compared to 65 in the previous year — a six-year high. Derailments happen due to fault in either railway tracks or the rolling stock.
The East Coast Railways is reeling under major underemployment. There is a 24% vacancy in safety official roles, as per records of East Coast Railway. Meanwhile, 1.42 lakh posts for security staff remain unfilled across India.
In recent times, the Indian Railways has considered going for a change in the aesthetics of the trains, including high-end bogeys, the introduction of bio-toilets, and even plans of starting a bullet train between Mumbai and Surat. However, it looks like before we go for these amenities, there is a pressing need to address the safety issue.
The Logical Indian appeals to the railway ministry to take severe measures to ensure the safety of the trains. We have seen our Railway Minister acting proactively on social media to address grievances of passengers travelling in trains. While such approaches are in fact, groundbreaking, the government should also take action for the accidents that are increasing every year.