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State pulls up CR, asks for probe into Dec 31 debacle

Services delayed by 20 minutes, state demands better coordination, management, Prajakta Chavan Rane reports.
None | By Prajakta Chavan Rane, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 05, 2013 02:03 AM IST

After days of delays and disruption on the Central Railway (CR), the state government has asked the CR to investigate the December 31 incident, when the chaos had peaked, services collapsed and three persons had died owing to overcrowding.

It has also expressed unhappiness over the inconvenience caused to commuters and asked the CR to work out a system with state officials to ensure alternates are provided to commuters in case of such disruption.

“I have instructed railway authorities to investigate the incident and fix responsibility for the poor the management and planning. We have also asked them to ensure that such a situation does not repeat,” said Naseem Khan, guardian minister of Mumbai suburbs.

Khan also said the state would help them out with resources, if needed. “The Railways should take the state into confidence and inform the city collector, chief secretary, civic chief and the urban development department while executing work on such a scale.”

On December 31, services on the main line were delayed by 45 minutes and 180 services were cancelled, owing to remodelling work of Thane yard being carried out between Mulund and Kalwa. The CR had enforced a 16-hour block on December 30 for the work, but it was extended to 6am the next day. Three persons died and two others were injured in the resultant chaos.

Lack of coordination between the CR, the state and other departments concerned worsened the situation, as no alternative arrangements were made for stranded commuters. Expressing displeasure over this, Mumbai guardian minister Jayant Patil said: “If they had informed us in advance, we could have provided additional bus services to help commuters.”

Denying that it was a failure of the state’s standard operating procedure to deal with such incidents, Patil said: “If the state had been informed of this, it could have been termed a failure on our part, but we were neither the collector nor the disaster management cell was aware of it.”

Patil said he will write to railway authorities. V Malegaonkar, CR’s chief public relation officer (CPRO) refused comment.

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