Railways minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday said that the Harda train accident was a ‘natural calamity due to unprecedented rain and couldn’t have been prevented at all.’
Addressing media persons in Bhopal in the evening, Prabhu said a heavy flow of water due to unprecedented rain washed away the soil under the culvert at the accident spot and the trains arrived shortly thereafter, leaving no time for preventive steps.
The Union ministers had reached Bhopal on Wednesday afternoon but could not visit Harda as the chopper pilot had refused to land there for want of a proper landing site, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
Prabhu said, “We had left Delhi (for Bhopal) with an intention of visiting the spot… the aim was to ensure proper relief and rescue work, which is already being done. So it actually doesn’t matter whether we could visit the spot….the chief minister has already visited the site.”
Minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha said, “when the chief minister, chief secretary, director general of police and even the district collector (of Harda) were unaware of the rain and flood situation at the spot, how could the railways have got the information.The railways do not have a stronger communication system.”
As per the regional meteorological centre, Harda received 12cm rainfall during the last 24 hours ending at 8.30am on Wednesday.
Khirakiya, which is near the accident spot, received 29cm rainfall. However, many other parts of the state received far higher rainfall during the period.
The MeT centre had also issued a warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall in parts of Hoshangabad division, under which Harda falls, on Tuesday.
Earlier, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan confirmed that 28 persons had died in the accident, three were seriously injured and 50 others received minor injuries.
Reacting to the demands of his resignation, the union minister said that at such time politics shouldn’t come into play. “We are doing what is our duty with full sincerity. We don’t want to get into politics,” he said.
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