Did the railway authorities ignore a warning that could possibly have averted the twin train accident in Harda late on Wednesday night?
The Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) in Bhopal said it had sent out ‘heavy to very heavy rainfall’ warning in the some areas of Hoshangabad division, under which Harda falls.
Two passenger trains derailed late in Harda after flash floods set off by torrential rains weakened tracks over a swollen river, killing at least 31 people in an accident that brought into focus the patchy safety record of India’s colonial-era rail network.
RMC director Anupam Kashyapi told HT that they had sent out a warning through e-mail to the divisional railway manager's office (DRM) in Bhopal on Wednesday morning, as part of a routine warning.
Also, a telephone call was made to the DRM office, the director said.
“We send weather related warnings to different agencies listed with the state relief commissioner’s office, and railways is one of them,’” Kashyapi said.
He added that the warning of heavy rainfall was issued on August 3 evening, and was available on the MeT centre website as well as other responsible agencies of the state government.
The divisional railway manager’s (DRM’s) office, however, denied having received any such warning.
“There have been many episodes or heavy rainfall but it did not lead to any problems. Also a train passed the same section ten minutes before the accident safe, and thus there was no such apprehension,” DRM Rajeev Kumar said.
He said that the soil under the culvert where the accident took place had been washed away due to sudden influx of water due to very heavy rainfall in short span.
“This led to the inundation in the catchment the nullah where the accident happened."