New Delhi: The Indian Railways has been asked to take “abundant precaution” in the wake of the death of 16 migrant workers who were run over by a goods train Friday morning in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
In a letter sent Friday and addressed to the Railway Board chairman, Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS) Shailesh Kumar Pathak said: “As an abundant precaution, it is essential that all Railway personnel connected with train operation, maintenance and patrolling activities should be cautioned to immediately communicate any such occurrence of persons walking along the track, if noticed by them, to the nearest station so that necessary action like caution order to all passing trains in accordance with G.R. (General Rules) 4.09 may be taken.”
The letter, sent Friday, also stated that such action by railway personnel is already mandated under Rule 2.05, Rule 2.11 and Rule 6.07 of the General Rules, 1976.
These rules mandate that every railway servant will ensure the safety of the public around the railway premises, and alert all necessary authorities in case of any possibility of an untoward incident.
In his letter, Pathak also said: “Apparently, all the affected persons had gathered along the track under the impression that the train services have been suspended due to Covid-19 lockdown. Furthermore, a false sense of security may have come into their minds about there being no trains on run whereas freight, parcel specials have been running from before and now migrant specials have also started plying.”
Pathak has enjoined the Railway Board to issue suitable instructions to all zonal railways to avoid recurrence of such incidents.
A senior railways officer said the commissioner’s advice was significant and should be followed. “The advice of CCRS can’t be ignored. It’s almost mandatory,” he said, adding, “..this is a good piece of advice to caution all those walking on or crossing the tracks as there are increased number of freight trains running and at greater average speed.”
Railways in controversy
The deaths of the 16 migrants was the second time the Indian Railways found itself in the midst of controversy this week.
The central government’s decision to make stranded migrants pay for their own tickets on special trains arranged to take them to their home states triggered a massive controversy, and even snowballed into a political issue, with the Congress offering to pay for their travel instead.
While the central government and the BJP sought to put an end to the controversy by stating that the railway ministry is bearing 85 per cent of the travel costs, and states are paying the remaining 15 per cent, railway ministry officials told ThePrint earlier this week that there is no official communication stating this, or explaining the break-up of costs.
The Modi government Tuesday even declined to give the Supreme Court the break-up of the share of ticket fares.