‘Where is Kavach?’ Kharge demands answers from railways after Kanchanjunga Express collision

Kharge listed out seven questions regarding the train accident

By Kaniza Garari  Published on  18 Jun 2024 9:59 AM GMT
‘Where is Kavach?’ Kharge demands answers from railways after Kanchanjunga Express collision

New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge demanded answers from railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on the collision between a goods train and Kanchanjunga Express on June 17 that resulted in 10 deaths so far.

A goods train rammed a stationary Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express near Rangapani, 30 km from the New Jalpaiguri station in Siliguri on Monday morning.

Hitting out at the railway minister, Kharge said, “Whenever there is a train accident, the railway minister under PM Modi’s government reaches the spot and under the glare of cameras behaves as if everything is fine!”

Seven questions on the functioning of railways

Demanding more initiatives from the government regarding railways, Kharge listed out seven questions regarding the train accident:

- After the major train accident that occurred in Balasore, why was even a single kilometre of the much-hyped anti-train collision system ‘Kavach’ not added to the rail network?

- Why are nearly three lakh posts vacant in the railways and why were they not filled in the last 10 years?

- According to the NCRB (2022) report, 1,00,000 people have died in rail accidents between 2017 and 2021 alone! Who will take responsibility for this?

The Railway Board 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?

- In its 323rd report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee criticised the railways for the ‘neglect’ shown by the Railway Board towards the recommendations of the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS). It was underlined that the CRS investigates only 8-10 per cent of accidents. Why was the CRS not strengthened?

- According to the CAG data, why was 75 per cent of funding reduced in the Rashtriya Rail Suraksha Kosh (RRSK), while Rs 20,000 crores was to be made available every year? Why is this money being used by railway officials on unnecessary expenses and comfort facilities?

- Why has travelling in the Sleeper Class become very expensive? Why has the number of sleeper coaches been reduced?

The railway minister recently ordered police force against the people ‘overcrowding’ rail coaches. But does he not know that 2.70 crore people had to cancel their tickets last year due to an abysmal shortage of seats — a direct result of PM Modi government’s policy to reduce coaches?

- Did the PM Modi government merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget in 2017-18 to avoid any kind of accountability?

Death toll rises to 10, 37 injured

The death toll in the train accident increased to 10, according to railway officials. Eight bodies are brought to the state-run North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.

Among the deceased was a six-year-old girl who was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition, doctor Sandip Sengupta, NBMCH’s dean of student affairs, told.

“The girl had fractures in her legs and a liver-spleen injury. She died while undergoing treatment,” he said. Thirty-seven people are undergoing treatment in the hospital. “Three persons are in the trauma care unit. They underwent surgery. Few patients have fractures. Most of them have superficial injuries,” hospital authorities told.

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