Modi Regime should be Called to Account for the Deadliest Triple Train Collision at Balasore

Where is the Train Collision Avoidance System developed by Indian Railways in 2011-12?

Train accident

While all have to focus on rescue, relief, medical treatment of the injured and restoration operations following the deadliest train tragedy at Balasore, and even as  deep condolences from world community on the tragic death of hundreds of people are pouring in,  the Modi regime which is in charge of railways and security of the people should not be absolved from its responsibility of the triple train crash, one of the most horrific in recent times. Though reported number of death is around 300 and that of injured more than 1000, the exact casualty figure may be larger as information on number of unreserved passengers is difficult to get, and as of now searching of bogies is also not completed.

What occurred at Balasore is quite unbelievable. Derailing of 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the derailed coaches then colliding with 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromondel Express and capsizing its coaches, and the latter again hitting wagons of a Goods Train, all point to utter inefficiency and neglect of the signaling system and lack of track maintenance of railways.

In 2011-12, the Indian Railways had developed a Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). But instead of appropriately deploying the same, the Modi government, as part of its ongoing ‘image marketing’ had just renamed it as KAVACH and failed to deploy it on Indian rail tracks. Though contract for the implementation of KAVACH was given to 3 companies, out of the total 68043 km Indian rail route, the so called KAVACH anti-collision system has been implemented only along 1445 km (just 2%) railway line. And instead of repeated roof-top speeches on rail development, if the anti-collision and signaling system was in place, the tragic triple train accident would have been avoided.

In 2022, when Modi regime was on its 7th year in power, the CAG in a report on “Derailment in India” had pointed out multiple shortcomings in Indian railways, and the most serious among them was regarding maintenance of railway tracks. But nothing in this direction was done except the usual nauseous rhetoric on modernisation. Obviously, the altogether abandonment of the separate Railway Budget and denigration of Ministry of Railways as part of far-right neoliberalism, the privatisation-corporatisation drive and replacement of public sector staff with private contract workers and so on have totally demolished the safety of passengers and efficiency of Indian Railways.

Today, when PM Modi himself flags off Vande Bharat trains across the country with much fanfare as part of public relations exercise backed by Godi media, as Balasore tragedy reveals, the Indian Railways, one of the largest in the world is in a most dilapidated condition risking the life of millions of hapless Indian passengers.

While, extending our deep condolences with the families of those dead at Balasore, and declaring solidarity with all rescue and relief workers and the common people who are engaged in round the clock relief operations there, it is time that Modi regime should be called to account for the horrific train disaster at Balasore.

P J James is General Secretary of CPI (ML) Res Star

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