Railways own Forensic Lab to investigate Accidents will be managed by Railway Protection Force

NEW DELHI: The Railway Ministry has decided to set up its own Forensic Science laboratory on the lines of the six Central Forensic Science Labs run by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The railway forensic science lab will be the first port of call for Railway investigators working on anything from a track fracture to a full-scale rail accident. It will be managed by the Railway Protection Force (RPF), said officials.

S.K. Bhagat, Director-General of the RPF said that the laboratory would cost about Rs 100 crore to set up. “At current prices, we are estimating that the capital expenditure on the building, the equipment and the like would be in the range of around Rs 70 crores. Another Rs 20-odd crores should be the anuual operational expenses,” Bhagat explained.

He said that matters relating to sabotage, which falls within the purview of the RPF, as well technical aspects of an untoward incident, which fall within the purview of the engineering departments, will be examined at the railway laboratory.

“A site for the work is being chosen and work on its will begin soon once all the formalities are completed,” said Bhagat.

It was earlier highlighted how the railways is particularly stressed over the rise in cases of sabotage on its railway tracks. Figures with the railways show that between January and February this year, the tracks have seen 40 cases of sabotage against a total of 45 such incidents between January and December 2016. Three incidents were being investigated by the National Investigation Agency and one incident by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The latest was the explosion on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train on March 6 near Jabri in Madhya Pradesh in which 8 people were injured. A subsequent operation by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad saw the gunning down of an alleged operative – Saifullah – in Lucknow on March 7.

Mumbai, with its a train-a-minute suburban system, is a particular worry, agreed officials. One of the most worrying of incidents in Mumbai came about on January 24 at around 10:40pm when the driver of train 12052 Madgoan-Dadar Janshatabdi Express applied emergency brakes after he noticed a 7 metre long track placed on the track.

On February 6, a repeat of the incident occurred near Kalamboli where the driver of a Pune-Santragachi train had to apply emergency brakes to avoid hitting a piece of metal kept on the tracks.

Home Ministry to set up Expert Panel for Rail Tracks Security

The Home Ministry today decided to set up an expert committee to suggest steps for strengthening security of railway tracks and other assets.

The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, among others.

“The Home minister (has) decided to constitute an expert committee to suggest measures to strengthen safety and security of railway tracks and property,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.

The meeting was attended by Ministers of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain, special secretary internal security and senior railway ministry officials.

“A fruitful coordination meeting to improve security of Indian railways and for better protection of railway assets including rail tracks,” Rijiju tweeted after the meeting.

The Home Ministry spokesperson said Singh and Prabhu discussed the recent incidents of railway accidents.

Earlier Prabhu had written to Singh seeking a detailed probe by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) into at least six incidents where accidents took place or an effort was made to cause an accident.

Following his letter, the Home Ministry handed over to the NIA the probe into three cases.

These cases include the recovery of an improvised explosive device (IED) at railway track in Ghorasahan in Bihar on October 1 last year and the incidents of derailment at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh.