Accident aftermath – muck engulfs in Bihar politics

PATNA: The tragedy on tracks at Dhamara Ghat has united two former railway ministers in flaying the government while another tried to tackle the crisis as chief minister of the state.

Over the last 60 years, Bihar has witnessed at least eight railway ministers — from Babu Jagjivan Ram (1956-62) to Lalu Prasad (2004-09) — but hardly anyone looked beyond the major towns to develop infrastructure for stations in the districts. Even chief minister Nitish Kumar, who was railway minister in two stints (1998-99 and 2001-04), could not change much although he promised today a direct road to Dhamara Ghat in the near future.

Mourning the loss of life, Nitish termed it a “rarest of rare” incident. He also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of the kin of victims. Nitish said: “I called up the East Central Railway (ECR) general manager at least four times to enquire about it. There is no road to reach the spot and people have to walk at least 3km. The government will provide free treatment to the injured persons.”

ECR general manager Madhuresh Kumar told Nitish that a rescue train from Barauni with all essential relief material had been rushed to the spot. The chief minister added: “Even post-mortem will be carried out on the spot itself to prevent delay in carrying out the last rites. As I stated that there is no road to reach the spot, I would like to announce that we have already made the detailed project report to construct a state highway touching the villages in the area.”

Nitish has sent planning and development department minister Narendra Narayan Yadav to the spot.

On the other hand, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said: “It is a very sad incident and I demand a compensation of Rs 10 lakh and jobs to the members of the victims family.”

However, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who was a railway minister from 1996-98, attacked the Nitish government: “Officials could not reach the spot even 10 hours after the accident. Nitish claims to connect every district in six hours but look at the situation.” He also demanded compensation of Rs 10 lakh to family members of the victims.

Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi too blamed the state government for the accident. “It was last Monday of Shravan and a huge rush was expected at the temple of Kattyani but the state government did not make any arrangements to control the crowd,” he said.