Utkal Express Derailment: Top Officials Suspended, Rail Traffic Restored
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has suspended four officers, transferred one and sent on leave its three top officials, including a secretary-level Railway Board official on the basis of prima-facie evidence in connection with derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express train at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. The action against eight officers came hours after Member (Traffic) of the Railway Board, Mohd Jamshed, indicated that negligence appeared to have caused the derailment.
More than a dozen trains in Meerut-Haridwar route have been affected. But the restoration work has been done with full swing. The wreckage of the train has been put away from the spot of accident. The Meerut-Muzaffarnagar- Saharanpur section in Uttar Pradesh has been restored today at 1:21 AM. In an official release Chief public relations officer of Northern Railway said that 54542 Ambala-Meerut City Passenger train passed Khatauli.
The initial probe and the prima-facie reports suggest that the derailment is caused due to sheer negligence of the officials at Khatauli station. The repairmen are accountable for managing blocks and repair work on the railway tracks. During the repair work, usually train movements are suspended in that particular route. It is routine process. But the investigating officers are opined that the workers and the local officers at Khatauli station choose to neglect the caution work, left hammers and other open equipments at the tracks which resulted into derailment.
Northern Railway officials admitted, “It is a major lapse in coordination. Clamps and tools have been found near the accident site, indicating that the repair work was underway. At Khatauli railway station, the white board used for writing notices for trains has been erased. Two station masters said that they had no clue about any work underway at that route. The spot of the accident was 300 meters away from the station. No prior instructions have been given for the trains to stop or slow down at Khatauli.
A Railway Ministry statement said in New Delhi that Member (Engineer) in the Railway Board, Northern Railway General Manager and Divisional Railway Manager (Delhi) were sent on leave in the wake of the train accident. Member (Engineer) in the Railway Board is the senior-most functionary to be sent on leave.
Besides, the Railways also suspended four of its officials, Senior Divisional Engineer, Delhi division, Assistant Engineer (Meerut), Senior Section Engineer, Permanent Way(Muzzafarnagar) and Junior Engineer (Khatauli). Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway, was also transferred as part of the action by the Railways. Meanwhile, General Manager of North Central Railway, Allahabad has been given responsibility of Delhi.
An FIR has been registered against unknown persons in the derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express. A UP police spokesperson said that sub inspector of the police post in-charge of GRP Khatauli lodged the FIR yesterday.
Meanwhile, more than 50 passengers who sustained injuries in the accident have been discharged after medical treatment, while medical treatment of another 102 injured passengers is in progress.
Timeline of the Utkal Derailment, 10 Points
1. On last Saturday evening, 23 people died and 40 seriously injured after 18477 Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh.
2. 14 coaches of the train derailed.
3. The train was coming from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand. The accident took place at around 5:45 in the evening. Khatauli is 40 kames away from Muzaffarnagar district.
4. PAC, NDRF and ATS teams have been sent at the spot. Gas cutters and cranes have been deployed at the rescue. 2 NDRF teams with 45 personnel each, and have been dispatched for the scene.
5. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment. He tweeted, “Medical vans have been rushed to the site, all efforts being taken to ensure speedy relief and rescue operations.” He also announced Rs 3.5 Lakh ex-gratia for loss of lives, 50,000 for seriously injured and 25,000 for minor injuries.
6. State machineries have set up a control room for the help. The helpline numbers are 0131-2436918, 0131-2436103, 0131-2436564.
7. PM Modi expressed grief and condolence over the tragedy. He tweeted, “Extremely pained by the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar. My thoughts are with family of the deceased.”
8. UP CM Adityanath Yogi also took Twitter, “Directed overall treatment and every possible help for the injured passengers.”
9. Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered quick probe into the matter.
10. Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik had also announced 5 lakhs Ex-Gratia for the deceased family, 50,000 for injured.