Bangalore-Nanded Express Fire Accident: Probe to begin today

Bangalore (SBC): Commissioner for Railway Safety S K Mittal, who visited the accident spot on Saturday, said a probe will begin on Monday, another inquiry panel headed by Chairman of Railway Board Arunendra Kumar and Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan is also probing the incident and are likely to submit their preliminary report in 10 days.

Railways officials said the report will be based on the preliminary inputs provided by a team from the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL).

The inquiries, however, are going to be independent of each other. “Railways can institute any number of inquiries but the one done by his office is the statutory inquiry and a report will be submitted by the end of January,” Mittal told.

“It is too early to say on what could have led to the fire. Let the probe begin,” he said when asked if the short circuit in the AC coach could have led to the fire.

Reports from Hyderabad said the Railways and APFSL have begun investigations.

Samples are being checked to ascertain whether inflammable material was present in the three-tier AC coach or was the fire due to a short-circuit.

Kumar inspected the gutted coach at Puttaparthi and also visited the accident site near Kothacheruvu railway station.

Forensic experts team led by A Sharada Avadhani, director, APFSL, visited the site to investigate and identify the bodies of the victims after conducting DNA profiling.

“It’s too early to come to a conclusion on the exact reason for the incident,” she told reporters. “As per our initial assessment, the fire began within 10 minutes after the train left Puttaparthi station,” she added.

The South Western Railways is ruling out the possibility of missing fire extinguishers in the ill fated B1 coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express.

Divisional Railways Manager (DRM) A K Aggarwal claimed that since the incident occurred in the dead of the night, most passengers were asleep. “When the fire broke out, within minutes the coach was filled with smoke and possibly the passengers were not able to use the fire extinguishers,” he said.

Railway officials said several passengers could have died due to carbon dioxide inside the coach before the flames could engulf them. A clear picture will emerge only after forensic experts come out with their preliminary inquiry report. Also, two parallel inquiries have been ordered.

While the Commissioner for Railway Safety S K Mittal, who visited the spot on Saturday, said a probe will begin on Monday, another inquiry panel headed by the Chairman of Railway Board Arunendra Kumar and comprising Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan is also probing the incident and are likely to submit their preliminary report in ten days.

Railways officials said the report will be based on the preliminary inputs provided by a team from the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL).

The inquiries, however, are going to be independent of each other. “Railways can institute any number of inquiries but the one done by his office is the statutory inquiry and a report will be submitted by the end of January,” Mittal told. “It is too early to say on what could have led to the fire. Let the probe begin,” he said when asked if the short circuit in the AC coach could have led to the fire.

Meanwhile, reports from Hyderabad said the Railways and APFSL have begun investigations. Samples are being checked to ascertain whether inflammable material was present in the three-tier AC coach or was the fire due to a short-circuit.

Kumar inspected the gutted coach at Puttaparthi and also visited the accident site near Kothacheruvu railway station.

Forensic experts team led by A Sharada Avadhani, director, APFSL, visited the site to investigate and identify the bodies of the victims after conducting DNA profiling.

“It’s too early to come to a conclusion on the exact reason for the incident,” she told reporters. “As per our initial assessment, the fire began within 10 minutes after the train left Puttaparthi station,” she added.

Sitting on Safety Panel Report:

The inferno in the AC coach of the Nanded Express has once again brought to the fore the delay on the part of the Railways to streamline safety measures.

The report of the High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) submitted about two years ago is still under discussion in the railway ministry.

The HLSRC has made 106 recommendations, covering all aspects of safety and also wants job vacancies related to safety aspects to be filled within six months. The Railways is yet to fill up about 1.5 lakh vacancies in safety-related jobs, out of the total 1.8 lakh vacancies.

Recently, the railway ministry compiled comments of its various directorates on the HLSRC report and sent it to the Railway Board members. The board is now discussing the implementation.

The committee, headed by nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, recommended allocation of Rs one lakh crore in the next five years to modernise safety in railways.

The committee wants a complete change in the safety scenario and suggested that Rs 5,000 crore be collected from passengers a year as safety cess. The report of the committee that was formed by the then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi has been overlooked by his successors as they find it unable to pressure the finance ministry to increase budgetary support to the crisis-ridden railways.

The report suggests implementation of the Advanced Signalling System through a Special Purpose Vehicle and an expert group on technical issues, at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore for 19,000 route kilometres on the trunk route.

It has suggested elimination of all level crossings (manned and unmanned) at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore over five years.

The committee has suggested setting up of research and development infrastructures in a big way. The mode of funding suggested by the committee includes safety cess on passengers, deferred dividend, road cess, matching grants by the Centre.

It has suggested annual mobilisation of Rs 20,000 crore from these sources to meet the requirement of Rs one lakh crore in the next five years to improve the safety environment in the Railways.

The HLSRC has recommended taking away the task of recruiting safety staff from the Railway Recruitment Board and introduction of an IT-based recruitment system to speed up the process.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail