Railway Safety Commissioner Shailesh Kumar Pathak has admitted that lapses on the part of the railway's engineering section led to the derailment of the Kalinga Utkal express near Khatauli station on August 19. The Safety commission, which held a day-long probe at Khatauli station after visiting the accident site, told reporters here yesterday that the Permanent Way Inspector had sought rail traffic to be blocked for 20 minutes for repair but the request was denied.
However, despite denial of request, the gangmen went for the repair of the tracks which led to the derailment. "If the Control room had blocked rail traffic, the mishap could have been avoided but still it is under the investigation that how the repair work was done when there was no blockade of the tracks," he said.
The Control room had refused to give the blockade as there was huge rush of trains at that period. The Commission has also taken congisance of the telephonic call which went viral on the social media between the station master and the control over the blockade. Pathak spent around 75 minutes on the accident spot inquiring the officials and eye-witnesses. He is expected to submit his report to the railway ministry within a month.
Meanwhile, the entire team of Gangmen which was doing the repair works on the tracks when the accident occurred has gone missing and they were yet to appear before the Commissioner though the suspended Junior Engineer Pradeep Kumar, who was the head of the team, appeared before the Safety commissioner.
The Kalinga-Utkal express derailed near Khatauli outer signal when 13 of its coaches went off the rails, leaving 23 passengers dead and over 200 injured. Cracking the whip, Railways sent eight seniors officers, including Member (Engineer) in the Railway Board, Aditya Kumar Mittal, Northern Railway General Manager R K Kulshrestha and Divisional Railway Manager (Delhi) R N Singh, on leave. R K Verma, Senior Divisional Engineer, Delhi division, Rohit Kumar, Assistant Engineer (Meerut), Inder Jeet Singh, Senior Section Engineer (Muzzafarnagar) and Pradeep Kumar, Junior Engineer (Khatauli) were suspended.
An FIR had also been lodged against unknown persons under sections 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 304(A) (causing death by negligence) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 151 (damage to or destruction of certain railway properties) and 153 (endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by wilful act or omission) of Railway Act.