Railway Minister Lalu Prasad on Monday admitted that lapses by the contractor and railway officials responsible for dismantling an over-bridge near Bhagalpur led to it collapsing on a train, resulting in the death of more than 30 passengers.
In a suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, the railway minister expressed grief at the unfortunate incident on Saturday and told MPs that three senior engineers responsible for supervising the demolition of the old over-bridge had been suspended "being prime facie responsible for this accident".
The suspended officers are the deputy chief engineer, assistant engineer and junior engineer - all in charge of construction activities.
"Orders have been issued to blacklist Bijoy Kumar Enterprises, the contractor who had been entrusted this (demolition) work," the minister informed.
Railway authorities have also filed a first information report (FIR) against the three engineers and the contractor for negligence resulting in the accident in which 35 people were killed when sections of the bridge fell on S-8 coach of passenger train Howrah-Jawalpur Express.
Of the 16 people injured in the accident, 12 are in serious condition in a hospital in Bhagalpur.
The minister informed the house that two days prior to the collapse of the bridge, a section had fallen on the track.
"Fortunately no train was passing under the bridge at that time. Despite this, the concerned contractor and the officers did not take it seriously and failed to take adequate steps, as a result of which a similar incident happened subsequently resulting in loss of lives of passenger and property," the minister stated.
The railways has announced Rs.500,000 to the next of kin of all the 35 people killed and Rs.100,000 to those seriously injured besides free medical treatment. For those with simple injuries, the railway authorities will be providing Rs.25,000 each,
The railway minister also assured employment to one of the close relative of those killed. In the case of seriously injured passengers rendered incapable to work despite treatment, he said employment would be provided either to the person or to one member of the family.