Thursday, June 7, 2012

Top official blames Railways for delay in Hampi Express accident probe

S Seethalakshmi  

BANGALORE: Satish Kumar Mittal, Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS) for the south western rail division and Bangalore Metro told TOI in an exclusive meeting that the South Western Railway (SWR) officials are delaying in presenting the witnesses and matters for probe into the Hampi Express accident on May 22. The accident, which happened near Penukonda station in Andhra Pradesh took toll on 25 lives and injured 70 others. The investigations began on May 24 and continued till 25.

Mittal revisited the accident spot on May 25 to gather matters which would be relevant for investigating as to why the incident occurred. He had also rushed to the spot on the day, it happened. "Even till June 4, I have been enquiring fresh batches of eye witnesses involved in the accident. The report can be given only if the railways hurry up the investigation procedure," he told TOI.

He also said that only when he is convinced that the details of investigations are gathered, it would take him minimum seven days to come up with the investigation report on the tragedy. He will further send it to the chief commissioner for railway safety, who will in turn send his comments along with the report to the railway board and ministry.

Meanwhile, the loco-pilots of the SWR division are up in arms against the Hours of Employment Regulations (HOER) in the Indian Railways Act, 1989, which does not give an upper limit of night shifts for loco-pilots. All 
Indian Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) members are holding protest rally on Thursday from CRS' office to SWR office near the City Railway station. The members slammed the railway officials for having blamed the accident on the drivers saying it happened due to human-error before even probing.

Another dismissed loco-pilot PU Venkatesan of the same division has also sought cooperation from media on the matters of safety hazards in locomotives and the cruel HOER in the railway act which causes fatigue. Data from railway sources show that the division has 488 vacancies whereas the requirement is for 2158.


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