Six months after accident that killed over 150, agencies yet to ascertain the cause
Six months after the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur claimed over 150 lives, investigating agencies are yet to ascertain the cause of the accident. The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) hasn’t submitted its preliminary report.
“It is informed that the preliminary report of the said accident is not available in the office,” Rajiv Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Railway Safety, said in response to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act posed by The Hindu, on May 15. On November 20 last year, 14 coaches of the Patna-bound train derailed between Pokhrayan and Malasa stations in Uttar Pradesh, killing at least 152 passengers and injuring 183.
According to the rules, the CRS has to submit its preliminary report to the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety and the Indian Railway Board Secretary within one month of the inquiry, and it has to make the report public as well. The CRS, under the Civil Aviation Ministry, then submits a detailed report within six months of the inquiry to the Chief Commissioner. Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Circle) P.K. Acharya, who is inquiring into the matter, declined to comment.
Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey didn’t respond to an e-mail questionnaire.
The accident became a high-profile case after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, suspecting sabotage, had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding a high-level investigation.
The Home Ministry then forwarded the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the sabotage angle.
“This matter is being monitored at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) level. We are awaiting an inquiry report from the NIA which had taken up the investigation soon after the accident,” said a senior CRS official, on condition of anonymity. However, NIA officials said they were yet to get a report from the Commission and a team of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) experts to finalise their investigations.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech during one of his election rallies had termed the accident a cross-border “conspiracy.”
The initial inquiry of the CRS which was held up for submission to authorities after the National Investigation Agency started a probe into the case had identified ‘carriage and wagon defects’ as the prime reason for the accident.