Notices have been issued by the Gauhati High Court to Indian Railway authorities for allegedly not adhering to safety guidelines while constructing a broad-gauge railway line from Lumding to Silchar in the state of Assam. Hearing a PIL filed by the All Barak Youth Students Association, a division bench comprising Chief Justice (Acting) N Kotiswar Singh as well as Justice Soumitra Saikia recently gave four weeks’ time to the Ministry of Railways, Railway Board and the Northeast Frontier Railway zone– to reply to the notices, a PTI report said. The petition mentioned that work on the conversion of metre-gauge to broad-gauge line to connect with Barak Valley, Tripura, Manipur, and Mizoram was sanctioned in 1996-97, and it was declared a national project in the year 2004. From 21 November 2015, passenger trains were started on the broad-gauge track.
As per the PIL, during the course of the conversion work, the principal director of audit in his Theme Based Audit Report, had warned the authorities of Indian Railways that construction work commenced without adequate geo-technical investigation. The petition, citing the report said the project shall be derailed because of faulty planning as well as failure to visualize the soil strata behaviour on the part of the national transporter.
Besides, the PIL also said that the CRS in its report had indicated a series of major loopholes. The Commissioner of Railway Safety had suggested the Indian Railways administration to engage experts in the field of geo-technology to review the status critically and suggest suitable preventive measures, it said. The PIL alleged that the authorities of Indian Railways, however, went ahead without rectifying serious defects in spite of the negative views in the expert report.
Earlier this year, massive landslides, mudslides and heavy rain wreaked havoc in Dima Hasao, which is situated between Lumding and Silchar, and all its communication channels were affected. The only railway link connecting the district of Dima Hasao and Barak Valley, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura with the rest of India was washed away as well. The people of Dima Hasao and south Assam are paying the price for non-compliance with the CRS report, the PIL further said.