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
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
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
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
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.