Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
At least 280 people have been killed and about 900 injured after two passenger trains collided in the state of Odisha, in the evening of 2nd June. This is the country’s worst rail tragedy in almost 20 years.
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, was going at about 130km/h collided with a stationary freight train at about 7pm on Friday, causing it to derail. Carriages from the freight train then hit two coaches from the Howrah Superfast Express train, which was travelling in the opposite direction, according to South Eastern Railway, resulting in the deadly pile-up.
This is not the first time that such a tragedy has occurred and unless we take immediate united steps, this will certainly not be the last.
In so many cases we have seen that no proper investigation is done, whereas the blame is immediately laid on the shoulders of the workers of various categories of the Indian Railways. The easiest thing for the authorities and also the most convenient is to shrug off all responsibility by blaming the drivers, the track maintainers, the station masters, etc.
The members of the ruling class of our country do not travel by the Indian Railways and neither do the ministers and other high authorities. It is the workers of Indian Railways and the crores of passengers who travel by trains who are at risk and often suffer.
All the unions and other people’s organisations should unite and declare that enough is enough. Let us ask tough questions to the government and the authorities and demand answers and corrective measures.
The people of Greece recently did just that when the workers and people poured out on to the streets and demanded the implementation of safety measures—they pointed out that over the years, irrespective of the party in power, there were cutbacks on the number of essential railway workers and on safety measures.
Let us hold the highest authorities responsible for these preventable tragedies and demand answers for the following:
- When railways claim that they have developed an anti-collision device, why has it not been installed in all trains?
- Was track maintenance affected due to lakhs of vacancies among regular track maintainers?
- Was safety affected due to thousands of vacancies and the consequent inhuman overwork of loco pilots, station masters, and other safety categories?
- Why are trains being made to run at speeds far above those considered safe for railway tracks?
- Was outdated or faulty communication and signalling system used due to which the train collided and derailed?
Is it even correct to call the tragedy an accident when it could have been prevented?
We stress that the railway authorities and government should be held accountable for neglecting safety and endangering lives of rail workers and people. After a quick, fair and impartial inquiry, those responsible should be given exemplary punishment!