Rail Minister derailed in Lok Sabha
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Last Updated: Thursday, August 04, 2011, 16:04
New Delhi: Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Thursday virtually got derailed during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha with several members cornering him on the sensitive issue of rail accidents.

Facing the Lok Sabha for the first time after taking over as Railway Minister, Trivedi appeared to be at loss of words while replying to members' concerns on the issue.

"It is a serious matter. There is no disagreement in saying that we are all concerned," he said in reply to Congress member Vilas Muttemwar's question on safety measures taken by the ministry in the wake of several rail accidents.

"At this stage, I must thank the rail parivaar - right from the gangman to the boardman everyone is dedicated," Trivedi said recalling that there were 2000 rail accidents in the 1960s, while this year there have been 93 accidents.

Muttemwar, a former union minister, could not help remark that Trivedi is new to the ministry and will take time to understand everything.

On Muttemwar's supplementary questions on vacancies in safety related departments and accidents continuing despite taking various measures, the minister merely said "I have all the answers only if you have patience to listen to it."

Trivedi's remarks that Indian Railways was the best system in the world given the constraints in the country drew sharp reactions from members.

As he tried to compare rail accidents in India with those in Europe, BJP member Yashwant Sinha asked him not to make any comparison as even a single death in a rail accident was "most despicable".

When members made their unhappiness known, Speaker Meira Kumar appealed for calm and asked them to allow the minister to speak as he was making his maiden reply in the House as Railway Minister.

As commotion continued, Trivedi said "I cannot answer like this. If you are not interested in the answer, then I am sorry."

To a question by R K Singh Patel (SP) on replacing the old signalling system and aging rail tracks in Bundelkhand, Trivedi said he can make Indian Railways the safest in the world if Parliament supports him.

"If this Parliament is going to support me, we can make Indian Railways the safest in the world. I need your support. Are you willing to give your support?" he asked the members.

To CPI(M) member Ramchandra Dome's observations on rail accidents, Trivedi merely said, "Answers can be given to questions. Answers cannot be given to political speeches."

Yashodhara Raje (BJP) wanted to know when the next of the kin of the victims of the September 2010 rail accident in her Gwalior constituency in Madhya Pradesh would get jobs as promised by the railway ministry.

Trivedi assured her that he would give the information at the earliest.


First Published: Thursday, August 04, 2011, 16:04

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