Maha accident: Rail safety watchdog calls for 'abundant caution' to avoid recurrence of such incident

Ananya Sengupta

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) After 16 migrant workers sleeping on railway tracks were mowed down by a goods train, Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety Shailesh Pathak has written to the Railway Board Chairman, calling for abundant caution and requesting him to issue instructions to ensure that such an accident does not recur.

The 16 people, walking back home during the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, were killed after a goods train ran over them near the Karmad railway station in Aurangabad district in Maharashtra on Friday morning.

The Commission of Railway Safety, which investigates all serious rail accidents and clears all rail projects, also said that now that such an incident of migrant or other persons walking along the tracks leading to consequent deaths have come to notice, all-out efforts must be made to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.

'Under such circumstances, as an abundant precaution, it is essential that all railway personnel connected with train operation, maintenance and patrolling activities should be cautioned to immediately communicate any such occurrence of persons walking along the track, if noticed by them, to the nearest station so that necessary action like Caution Order to all passing trains (can be taken),' he said.

In his letter to Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav, he also said that this protocol is already part of duties of all railway servants under the Indian Railways (Open Line) General Rules, 1976.

'In view of the aforesaid, it is requested to immediately issue suitable directions to all Zonal Railways to avoid recurrence of such unfortunate incidents in future,' he said.

The Commission of Railway Safety comes under the civil aviation ministry and investigates all railway accidents.

The railways has already ordered a probe under Ram Kripal, Commissioner of Railway Safety, South Central Circle, who will hold an independent inquiry into the accident, the Railway Ministry announced.

Sources said that what is being probed is the role of patrolmen who are tasked with keeping trespassers away from tracks and also alert the nearest station about any incident.

While the railways does not treat these incidents as 'railway accidents' and terms runover cases as 'trespassing', there have been instances in the past where it has offered ex-gratia to the next of kin of a victim on sympathetic grounds.

In the 2017 Elphinstone bridge collapse incident in which 23 people were killed and 39 injured in Mumbai, the railways had given ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the incident, Rs 1 lakh for those seriously injured and Rs 50,000 to people who suffered simple injuries.

The railways has not yet announced any ex gratia in the Aurangabad accident. PTI ASG SMN SMN