In a statement issued by him in this regard, the train accident at Paganaka railway station in odisha has claimed precious human lives. Many people were injured. My deepest condolences to the bereaved. Two types of reasons have been revealed for this accident namely train derailment and signal failure. An inquiry commission headed by a judge should be set up to find out what is the real reason.
An investigation by the Railway Safety Commissioner may not be impartial.When similar accidents occurred in 1998, the then Vajpayee government appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Khanna. It conducted an impartial inquiry and put forward the cause and solution. So I request the central government to set up a commission of inquiry headed by a judge and find out the truth.
Both causes of the crash raise an important question. The first reason is train derailment. According to the second detail, after the signal was given, the point went to the loop line and collided with the goods wagon standing there. That means signal failure.
Suresh Prabhu released a White Paper on Railways in 2017 when he was the Railway Minister. In the white paper, he said that 4500 km of tracks are damaged every year in indian Railways, but we are renewing only 2000 to 2500 km, so there is a lot of track that needs to be renewed. This can lead to accidents anytime. He said that these accidents can happen due to derailment. He mentioned in the white paper that the under-renovation of rails is due to lack of funds.
Similarly, a committee of officials called task forces set up by the railways reported that signals break down at 200 stations every year but only 100 are repaired and many more are pending. This is also due to insufficient funds. After much criticism, the government announced the creation of a national defense fund of Rs 1 lakh crore to renovate these assets. 20 thousand crores will be spent annually. Out of which 5000 crores will be generated from depreciation fund and 5000 crores from daily revenue of railways. In addition to this, ten thousand crores will be generated through diesel tax and 20,000 bridges will be repaired and signal rails will be spent annually.
But instead of allocating 5000 crores for depreciation fund, they allocated only 500 crores and 300 crores. Similarly, the daily income of railways is not enough to collect 5000 crores. If we look at last year's survey, 107 rupees of income means expenditure of 107 rupees. If you look at the actual account for many years, the railways did not get any net income.
The Accountant General in a report alleged that Rs 1 lakh 14 thousand crores should be spent on renovation of these defense related assets and that the defense fund was not spent as planned. Thus, the central government has to give 1 lakh 14 thousand crores to the railways out of this 20 thousand crores. Because of this, 15,000 kilometers of railway tracks that are not being renovated today are in a state of disrepair and can derail anytime. Similarly, many signals remain unupdated. Railways' stated ambition is to provide fast, safe and affordable rail travel. But I blame the Railways and the Union government for not acting with a sense of urgency to run safe trains.
This raises another question: If the Coromandel Express was equipped with anti-collision equipment to avoid colliding with the derailed coaches or the freight train, the engine could have stopped two kilometers earlier. But this tool is not fitted in this cart.
Last year in march (31-3-2022) Railway Advisory Committee meeting for Members of parliament was held. In it, they announced that steps are being taken to install this collision avoidance device under the name Kavach. According to the report, only 65 engines will be equipped with it by 2022. It is a matter of great concern that only 65 engines are fitted with it, out of a total of over 13,000 diesel engines, 4,800 and 8,400 electric engines. This concern was pointed out in the consultation meeting. It is said that serious efforts will be made to increase the number. But what action was taken after that should now be reported to the people of the country.