Congress's 7 questions to Modi govt on Bengal train accident: ‘Who should be…?’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Congress's 7 questions to Modi govt on Bengal train accident: ‘Who should be…?’

Jun 18, 2024 02:58 PM IST

Kharge questioned the Modi government's merging of the Railway Budget with the General Budget, suggesting it was done to evade accountability.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday posed seven pointed questions to the Narendra Modi government aimed at highlighting what he called "criminal negligence" in the management of Indian Railways after 10 people were killed and dozens injured in train accident in West Bengal's Darjeeling district.

Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge.(ANI)
Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge.(ANI)

Kharge questioned why, despite the severe Balasore accident, not a single kilometer of the much-touted Kavach anti-collision system had been added since then.

He asked why the nearly 300,000 vacant posts in the Railways that have remained unfilled for the past decade.

Read: Kanchanjunga Express accident in Bengal: Several trains cancelled, diverted; repair work continues

Citing an NCRB report, the Congress president noted that 100,000 people died in rail accidents between 2017 and 2021, demanding accountability for these fatalities.

“The Railway Board itself has admitted that the long working hours of loco pilots due to acute shortage of manpower are the main reason for the increasing number of accidents. Then why were the posts not filled?” he posted on X.

Pointing towards the Parliamentary Standing Committee's criticism of the Railways for the "neglect" shown by the Railway Board towards the recommendations of the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS), Kharge asked why was the CRS not strengthened.

Read: Bengal train accident: Teams faced desperate scramble to rescue trapped victims

The veteran Congress leader, who is also the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, questioned why 75% of funding for the 'Rashtriya Rail Suraksha Kosh' had been cut, with funds being allegedly misallocated.

“Why is this money being used by railway officials on unnecessary expenses and comfort facilities?” he asked.

Kharge lamented the increased cost of travel in the Sleeper Class and the reduction in sleeper coaches, which has led to overcrowding and ticket cancellations.

“Railway Minister recently said to use police force against the people “overcrowding” rail coaches. But does he not know that 2.70 Cr people had to cancel their tickets, last year due to abysmal shortage of seats — a direct result of Modi Govt’s policy to reduce coaches?” he said.

Kharge also wondered whether the Modi government merged the Railway Budget with the General Budget to evade accountability.

"Whenever there is a train accident, Modi Govt's Railway Minister reaches the spot under the glare of cameras and behaves as if everything is fine!" Kharge said. "Narendra Modi ji, tell us who should be held accountable, the Railway Minister or you?"

"Self-glorification will not undo the criminal negligence perpetrated by the Modi Govt on the Indian Railways!" he asserted. "Accountability needs to be fixed at the top."

Read: Faulty signal, speeding freight train: What caused West Bengal train crash

The collision, which occurred on Monday morning near Rangapani, 30 kilometers from the New Jalpaiguri station in Siliguri, involved a goods train ramming into the stationary Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express.

Officials confirmed that eight bodies were initially recovered from the scene and two more victims succumbed to their injuries at the state-run North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH). Among the deceased was a six-year-old girl who suffered critical injuries, including leg fractures and a liver-spleen injury.

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