Odisha train crash: Railways seeks CBI probe, hints sabotage
STATE TIMES NEWS
Balasore: The railways on Sunday sought a CBI inquiry into the Balasore train crash, hours after minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the “root cause” of the accident and the people behind the “criminal” act have been identified.
Railway officials also indicated that possible “sabotage” and tampering with the electronic interlocking system, which detects the presence of trains, led to the Friday accident.
However, several opposition parties stepped up pressure for Railway Minister Vaishnaw’s resignation, with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge calling for fixing accountability from top to bottom.
The BJP hit back, saying the track record of the Congress-led UPA government’s railway ministers was nothing short of a disaster and they should not politicise the issue.
“We have recommended a CBI probe into the triple train accident,” Vaishnaw told reporters in Bhubaneswar on Sunday evening.
Earlier in the day, he said the cause of the accident was related to electric point machine and electronic interlocking.
“The setting of the point machine was changed. How and why it was done will be revealed in the probe report.”
“The root cause of the horrifying incident has been identified… I do not want to go into details. Let the report come out. I will just say that the root cause and the people responsible for the criminal act have been identified,” he said.
The death toll in the three-train crash on Friday was revised to 275 from 288 by the Odisha government which said some bodies were counted twice earlier.
With 187 bodies yet to be identified, keeping them till the time they are claimed by the victims’ kin is proving to be a challenge to the local administration.
While 110 bodies were being kept at the AIIMS Bhubaneswar, the remaining have been sent to Capital Hospital, Amri Hospital, Sum Hospital and some other private facilities.
Anxious relatives thronged the NOCCI Business Park to identify photos of passengers displayed by authorities.
Vaishnaw, who had been camping at the site of the train accident along with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, said two railway tracks have been restored on the main trunk line connecting eastern and southern India and overhead electrification work has also started.
Officials said till the overhead electric cable is repaired, only diesel locomotives can be run and it may take another three days before electric trains can ply.
The ministers said restoration work was being carried out on a war footing and efforts were on to send the passengers back home.
“By Tuesday we should be able to do it,” Pradhan said.
The accident disrupted passenger and goods traffic between important industrial centres. Many of the patients initially admitted to Balasore and other local hospitals have been released or shifted to bigger cities with multi-specialty hospitals including Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Kolkata.
The railways said 123 trains have been cancelled, 56 diverted, 10 short terminated and 14 trains have been rescheduled for the period June 3-7.
Many of the passengers on the two trains were migrant workers. Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma said that even if the victims were ticketless travellers, they will receive compensation.
This is in line with a Supreme Court order, officials said.
So far, the railways has disbursed Rs 3.22 crore as ex-gratia in 285 cases — 11 deaths, 50 grievous injuries and 224 minor injuries.
Meanwhile, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre for setting up an inquiry commission headed by a retired apex court judge to probe the cause of the train accident
The plea filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari claimed that non-implementation of Kavach system anti-collision system at the earliest has resulted in the massive loss of life and damage to public property.
While several opposition leaders have made similar allegations, the railway minister asserted that “Kavach has nothing to do with the accident”.