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"...PR gimmicks have hollowed the working system": Mallikarjun Kharge attacks Centre after Odisha 3-train accident
New Delhi: Coming out hard against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre over the train accident in Odisha's Balasore, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday accused the Centre of "not implementing" the suggestions and "reducing" in allocation for track renewals.
Taking to Twitter, Mallikarjun Kharge said, "Questions to the Modi government, after perhaps the most horrific train accident of independent India. Advertising and PR gimmicks have hollowed the working system of the government." He accused the Centre of not filling the vacancies leading to a "scarcity of manpower".
"3 lakh posts are vacant in Railways, the posts of big officers are also vacant, the PMO recruits, why were they not filled in 9 years?" Kharge questioned.
He added, "The Railway Board itself has recently admitted that long working hours of loco pilots due to acute shortage of manpower is the main reason for the increasing number of accidents. Then why the posts were not filled?"
The Congress president further alleged that the Railways ministry didn't implement the suggestion of repairing the signalling system.
"The Principal Chief Operating Manager of South Western Railway Zone urged and warned to repair the signalling system on 8 February 2023, citing a tragedy in Mysore in which two trains were saved from the collision. Why didn't the Ministry of Railways implement it?" Kharge said.
He added, "The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its 323rd report criticized the Railways for the "disregard" shown by the Railway Board towards the recommendations of the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS). It was said that CRS investigates only 8-10 per cent of accidents. Why CRS has not been strengthened?"
Citing the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) data, the Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition (LoP) alleged "huge decline" in the amount of track renewal adding that there is "zero testing" of rails and welds.
"According to the latest CAG audit report, between 2017-18 and 2020-21, almost 7 out of 10 train accidents happened due to train derailment. In 2017-21, there was zero testing of rails and welds (Track Maintenance) for safety in East Coast Railway. Why was it sidelined?" he said.
Kharge added, "As per CAG, why 79 per cent of funding was reduced in Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), while 20,000 Cr was to be made available every year. Why has there been a huge decline in the amount of track renewal works?"
He further said, "The train collision avoidance system developed by India's Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO) in 2011 was renamed by the Modi government as "Kavach" and was demonstrated by the Railway Minister himself in March 2022. Then why only 4 per cent routes have been provided with armour?"
Further slamming the BJP-led Centre, Kharge demanded fixing of responsibility from "top to bottom".
"Modi Ji, you are busy flagging off the whitewashed trains every day but do not pay any attention to rail safety. Accountability of the posts from top to bottom has to be fixed so that such accidents can be prevented from happening in future. Only then the victims of this accident will get justice," he added in a subsequent tweet.
Meanwhile, 275 people have been killed and over 1000 were left injured after the tragic three-train accident in Odisha's Balasore on Friday night.
As per the Ministry of Railways, the restoration work is going in full swing and the officials are closely monitoring the restoration process at the accident site.
The three-way accident involved Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Coromandel Express and a goods train on three separate tracks at Bahanaga Bazar Station in the Balasore district.
The preliminary report on the tragedy said the three-way accident involved Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Coromandel Express and a goods train on three separate tracks at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Balasore district.
As many as 17 coaches of these two passenger trains were derailed and severely damaged in the accident on Friday evening. (ANI)