The inquiry committee tasked to look into the Harda twin-train accident that claimed the lives of about 30 people has categorically held the railway administration of Bhopal rail division responsible for the mishap on August 4.
In its report submitted to the railway board in the past week, Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) of South Central Circle DK Singh, who was leading the investigation, has blamed Bhopal rail division officials on three main counts - ignoring the weather warning, not ensuring monsoon patrols on the track and withdrawing the caution mode on the route just prior to the mishap.
The report suggests if the railway officials had acted on the Meteorological Department’s weather warning of moderate to heavy rain in Harda and surrounding areas, and if monsoon patrolling of the track had been ensured, the mishap could have been averted.
It also points out that just before the accident, Bhopal rail division’s control room, which was allowing trains to move on caution mode just two hours earlier on that rail section, took off the mode despite continuing rainfall and water around the railway track swelling.
When trains run on caution, their speed is limited to 10 to 20 km an hour while the normal speed of express trains on Itarsi-Mumbai route is 80 to 100 km an hour.
Regarding water logging on the track, the report said it was not due to a breach in a dam nearby, but because a Rolegoan village bridge had collapsed after being inundated with water. Once the bridge collapsed, water gushed towards the track and submerged it.
Talking to Hindustan Times, CRS DK Singh said, “After completing a thorough probe, I have submitted the report to the railway board. It is up to the railway station what action they take.” However, he refused to talk about his findings.
More than 30 people died and 25 were injured when the Kamayani Express and the Janta Express derailed within minutes of each other while crossing a small bridge between Khirakia and Birangi railway station.
The Kamayani Express was headed towards Varanasi from Mumbai while the Janta Express was en route to Mumbai from Patna when the accident took place.
Accident: On August 4
Trains: Kamayani Express and Janta Express
Number of coaches derailed: 8 coaches, including five of Kamayani and three of Janta Express
Total dead: 30 passengers
Feared dead: 16 passengers (who are still missing)
Injured: 25 passengers