The Commission of Railway Safety, a central government body, on Saturday initiated an inquiry into the fire that broke out in a Kolkata Metro train two days ago. The state fire department set up a committee to conduct a separate probe into the Metro’s fire safety arrangements.
At least 42 passengers were injured in a fire which occurred in a Metro train on Thursday between Rabindra Sadan and Maidan stations. The state fire services department had on Friday issued a notice to Metro authorities over a lack of fire safety measures. “The Commission of Railway Safety, which is an independent body and comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, will be probing the case. They deal with matters pertaining to safety of rail travel and train operations,” said a government official.
Confirming the fire department probe, Chief Operations Manager of Metro Railways Kolkata Satyaki Nath told The Sunday Express, “We have received a notice under section 35 of the West Bengal Fire Services Act 1950, where it says that the occupier of the building has to maintain fire safety norms, and that a committee has been formed to oversee arrangements.”
Meanwhile, sources said Metro officials have allegedly been inviting fire department officials in its mock drills for months, including once in July, which went unanswered. “We provide training to our staff handle fire incidents through mock drills. We invited them (fire department officials) but they gave no response then…” said a Kolkata Metro official.
After the incident occurred, passengers alleged that there was a delay in rescue operations on the part of Metro authorities, and that there was no response on the helpline. They also said there was no attempt by Metro authorities to communicate with them (via the announcement system) while they were waiting for the rescue team. Metro officials have denied the allegations.
“As per the initial report, announcements started at 17.09. Passengers claimed they received no response on the helpline but our logbook shows that many calls were received, and at 17.10, our station staff reached the spot… We began evacuation process at 17.22 and kept telling passengers not to panic. However the passengers allegations will definitely be checked and verified,” said a senior Metro official.