June 25, 2003
Railway authorities today said that the site of the landslide near Rajapur station on the Karwar-Ratnagiri sector of Konkan Railway — that took 51 lives — was the ‘‘least suspect spot’’.
Talking to media from the accident site, Regional Railway Manager (Ratnagiri zone) D.R. Shyamsunder said: ‘‘Since Konkan Railway does witness several landslides at various places such as Chiplun and Diwankoli specially in the rains, we have a special post for a geologist under the designation of Deputy Chief. Under him is an inspection team called the ‘Boulder Gang’ which regularly inspects all landslide prone areas in the Konkan sector.’’
This orphan girl now
SINDHUDURG: NO BODY knows the real name of this two-year-old girl admitted to Sindhudurg district hospital after the train accident. Police constable Nikhita B. Yedwe calls her ‘‘Sonu’’ and the child in turn calls her ‘‘Mummy’’.
However, he added that the latest accident spot was not supposed to be all that vulnerable, as compared to other parts where also hills have been cut for the tracks.
The Boulder Gang reportedly periodically inspects the lines passing between hills and strong netting is also laid to cover certain sections of the hills which may obstruct rail lines during a landslide or a mudslide in the rains.
Interestingly, no netting was provided on the latest accident spot, where a huge basalt boulder slid onto the tracks, causing the train to derail on Sunday. The reasons cited for the accident is that torrential rains had further loosened the soft red coloured earth, forcing the basalt boulder to fall on the track. ‘‘We do plan to have more nets around certain hills to protect the tracks from landslides,’’ said Shyamsunder.
However, sources indicated that landslides in Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) and Canacona (Goa) cause frequent suspension of railway lines, so even though the route is designed for a speed of 160 km per hour, trains cannot cross the speed limit of 80 km per hour while the speed is further reduced to 50 km per hour at every major tunnel.
Techno savvy Konkan rly skipped patrol
New Delhi, June 24: In its preoccupation with getting sky buses for Goa, an Anti-Collision Device (ACD) for the railways and its experiments with bullet trains — the Konkan Railway Corporation (KRC) apparently forgot monsoon patrolling and running checks on the tracks.
Boasting of its state-of-the-art-technology, the KRC neglected train operations — its primary task, according to sources in the Railway Board. The KRC lost its focus and was trying to earn some revenue from other sources.
Site area considered ‘stable stretch’: Nitish
New Delhi: Railway Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said the area near Monday’s accident site in the Konkan Railway was considered a ‘‘stable stretch’’ and no netting of the steep slope had been done by authorities. ‘‘According to Konkan Railways it was a stable stretch which was not prone to landslides…..And no netting had been done,’’ he told NDTV 24X7. In fact, he said, a little distance from the accident site, the Railways had taken all precautions for loose boulders. At least 51 persons were killed in one of the worst-ever accidents on the Konkan railway network involving Karwar-Mumbai Central Holiday Special. The Konkan Railway by this evening had paid an ex-gratia amount of over Rs 4.30 lakh to the victims, a Railway spokesperson said adding that this is besides the compensation the Railway Ministry would disburse. —Agencies
‘‘The KRC got more involved in finding answers to the urban transport problem. It promised Goa Sky Bus system after it was rejected by Mumbai. It also claimed credit for inventing Kavach, an anti-collision device, presently being tested on Northern Railway. But they had trains to run and tracks to maintain,’’ said a senior railway official.
According to sources, it was a perfect case of misplaced confidence for KRC since the railways had been projecting it as their showpiece. ‘‘The Railway Ministry too had been pampering it, subsidising them for their losses. Now even this fig leaf has gone for the railways,’’ the official said. However, the maintenance was still the responsibility of KRC.
‘‘Rules for monsoon patrolling are very stringent, more so in areas prone to heavy rainfall, landslides and shifting of land. As per information received so far, the KRC had failed to carry out the patrolling,’’ an official in Safety Directorate said.
The Corporation had also become lax in conducting Ultrasound Flaw Detection Test (USFD) of the track, thinking that the track was new and did not require regular checks. The fact that there is not much traffic on this line to put pressure on the tracks, contributed to the false sense of security, railway officials said.
Moreover, Railway Board had also received some complaints about lack of proper infrastructure for the increase in holiday traffic. Sources said that Railway Minister Nitish Kumar had asked KRC Managing Director B. Rajaram for an explanation.
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