Probing into the horrific Kalinga Utkal Express derailment incident which took place on August 19, the Railways Ministry on Sunday suspended four officials and has sent three top officials, including a Railway Board Member and a zonal General Manager, on leave. A report published by Indian Express states that Railway Board Member (Engineering) Aditya Kumar Mittal, Northern Railway General Manager R K Kulshreshta and Delhi Divisional Railway Manager R N Singh were sent on leave with immediate effect. Various Railway officials have said that this is for the first time that a board member of the Railways (from Secretary-level post) has faced wrath for a mishap like this.
The report also informed that Mittal was one of the senior officials of tracks, land, civil engineering projects and station development and his retirement was due at the end of this month. Speaking to the paper, he said, “Nobody has told me anything about this. I am very much in Delhi. I am hearing it from you.”
Another official Kulshreshta, who ordered the suspension of four Railway officials in connection with the case, has almost a year left as the General Manager of Railway. He is a 1980-batch Indian Railway Electrical Service officer.
Reacting to the incident, Mohd Jamshed, Railway Board Member (Traffic) said that exemplary punishment would be taken up against those involved in the case. This includes top officials as well as field staffs, he added. According to a preliminary prove, the derailment happened due to lapse or negligence from those taking care of track maintenance activities at the Khatauli yard. The paper also stated that a glued joint in the rail which holds a signal-separation mechanism was being fixed without blocking the train traffic. Even the Permanent Way Inspector did not place warning signals for trains crossing from that route.
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As off now, all the field workers responsible for the lapse have been suspended. Even some maintenance tools were also found near the derailment spot. “We are waiting for the report in the evening… Exemplary punishment will be announced to fix responsibility,” Jamshed told Indian Express.
As many as thirteen coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express went off-track at Khatauli near Muzzafarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening, killing over 20 people and injuring at least 200. The railways announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh for the family of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured.