Tuesday, September 22, 2015

BHOPAL: A joint surprise inspection by Central Bureau of Investigation and vigilance department of railways found sub-standard quality of ballast (crushed stones) supplied to railways in Madhya Pradesh by a private company ignoring safety concerns.

Searches are being carried out in Jabalpur for last three days, said sources.

Railways awarded a Rs 2.80 crore tender to Perfect Stone Crushers Ltd, MP for supply and stacking of 50,000 cubic meter ballast on September 20, 2013. The supply was to be made till April 2014 and size of stone prescribed in the tender was 65 mm and they were to be used in Jabalpur region.

As many as 19 stacks were examined by probe agencies, and all of them were found to be of poor quality, said sources.

Ballast is broken pieces of hard rocks of approximately 25-66 mm size, over which railway tracks are laid. Role of ballast is to transfer applied load over a large surface, provide adequate elasticity and hold the sleepers in position besides preventing creep. And under wet conditions, it permits free drainage, said railway officials.

"A large proportion of accidents occur through derailments of carriages and many of them were found to be having poor quality ballast," said an officer.

Meanwhile, a separate inquiry is being conducted into railway electrification work on 189km track between Jabalpur and Satna districts in Madhya Pradesh following allegations that flawed erection of electric poles may lead to untoward train accidents.

Delhi-based M/s CIPL-Cobra had bagged Rs 150 crore contract of Itarsi-Allahabad rail route electrification work from West-central Railways (WCR) in 2013 for a period of 36 months and the work is in progress.

CIPL is a multi-national company working with Cobra in India. During a joint surprise check by CBI's Jabalpur unit and WCR's vigilance at Maihar and Satna investigators found some of the poles were erected without a proper base.

"Foundation is of importance for stability of overhead line poles. It has been found many poles were installed without proper foundation. They may collapse on tracks in case of heavy rain or flood and may cause rail accidents," said a senior railway officer wishing anonymity.

Senior engineers of WCR have also come under CBI scanner for releasing company's payment without testing/checking of work. "There are 33 poles in every km distance. We think many of the poles have to be re-erected," said the officer.

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