Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trade Union shows Rail Minister whos the boss



CHENNAI: Union Minister for Railways Dinesh Trivedi gradually watered down his statement over the day faulting the train driver for Tuesday’s mishap at various interactions with the media on Wednesday.
It’s perhaps sheer coincidence, but the Union minister’s last toned down version, made at the site of the accident a little after 1 pm, came on the heels of a strongly-worded statement released by the Dakshin Railway Employees’ Union (DREU) after Trivedi’s initial statement made at the GGH that the cause of the accident was “passing of signal in danger”. The response to his off-the-cuff statement, made without a probe by S K Mittal, the newly appointed commissioner for railway safety of the southern circle at Bangalore, may well have made him eat his words.
At the GGH, Trivedi said the MEMU coach operator did not stop the train despite the stop signal, clearly hinting at the driver’s error. Addressing the reporters after visiting the injured at the GGH, he said data showed that the driver was running the train at very high speed.
In a counter-statement soon after, DREU president T K Rangarajan said, “...before initiating an inquiry and a probe by the commission of enquiry for railway safety, the minister has premeditated the cause of accident and announced the same.”
Shortly after this was circulated, the minister’s speech appeared tamer and more constrained. “It is too early to tell if the mistake was the fault of the driver at this stage. We will wait for the preliminary reports that experts are working on. All the data has been recorded properly and will be made available to the commission,” he said and even added in answer to a scribe’s question, “There is no evidence to suggest that the driver may have done anything at this instance.”

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