Nearly 250 killed in train accidents in past one year
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Last Updated: Monday, July 19, 2010, 17:24
New Delhi: Nearly 250 people have lost their lives in train accidents in the past one year since Mamata Banerjee took charge of the Railways Ministry.

Railways have witnessed about a dozen train accidents since May 2009, including two major mishaps in West Bengal, Banerjee's home state, in a span of 51 days.

Most of the mishaps involved collisions between trains like today's tragedy at Sainthia station in West Bengal's Birbhum district. At least 60 people were killed and nearly 90 injured when a speeding Sealdah-bound Uttarbanga Express tore through the rear of Vanachal Express.

Jyaneshwari Express derailment in which Maoists were allegedly involved in West Bengal's West Midnapore on May 28 was the worst among these accidents, claiming 148 lives.

On October 21, 2009, 22 people were killed and 26 injured when the Goa Express rammed into the Mewar Express at Banjana on the Mathura-Vrindavan section of the Northern Railway in Uttar Pradesh.

Seven persons lost their lives on November 14 last year when the Delhi-bound Mandore Express derailed with some portion of the track piercing its AC compartment in Bassi near Jaipur.

The new year began on a sad note for the Railways when three accidents involving five trains took place in Uttar Pradesh on January two leaving 15 people dead. Foggy conditions were blamed for the accidents, two of which involved collision between trains.

The first accident took place near the town of Etawah, when the Lichchavi Express entering the station rammed into the stationery Magadh Express. In a similar accident, Gorakhdham Express and Prayagraj Express collided near the Panki railway station in Kanpur.

The third accident took place when the Sarayu Express broke into a tractor trolley at an unmanned railway crossing in Pratapgarh.

A similar accident took place again on January 16, when the Kalindi Express and Shram Shakti Express collided due to thick fog near Tundla railway station, around 25 km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Three people were killed in the accident.

On June 4, at least five people were killed when the the Coimbatore-Mettupalayam special train rammed into a mini bus at a level-crossing in Coimbatore.

The other such accidents included the derailment of Mysore-Ajmer Express near Pune on 1 November 2009, the derailment of Arunachal Pradesh Express in Assam on January 3 this year and the derailment of Delhi-Guwahati Rajdhani Express in Naugachia, Bihar, on 25 May.

On June 18, at least 27 persons were injured when the 8084 Amaravati Express from Vasco-da Gama to Howrah derailed near Koppal, Karnataka, after ramming into a road-roller at an unmanned level crossing.

However, there were no casualty reported from these accidents.

Recurring accidents have given ammunition to opposition parties to accuse Banerjee of negligence.

Questioning her "capability and willingness" to provide safety to passengers, the BJP said that if she continued to use her office as a "platform for politics" in West Bengal she should be made a minister without portfolio.

"Mamata Banerjee should concentrate on Railways. If she is using the Railways as a platform for politics in West Bengal, it is better to make her a minister without portfolio," BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay said.

Attacking Banerjee over the spate of train accidents, CPI(M) said the latest mishap in West Bengal was a clear case of negligence and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "take a call" on issue.

Terming Banerjee's statement suggesting that the accident could be an act of sabotage as "highly irresponsible", CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the accident in Sainthia was "clearly a case of negligence. There has been no act of sabotage, nothing has been removed.

"You have a Minister whose attention is elsewhere and the country is paying the price for that," he said.


First Published: Monday, July 19, 2010, 17:24

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