July 19, 2010
Sadly, rail accidents seem to have become a regular occurrence these days in India. 148 lives were lost two months ago when Jyaneshwari Express was derailed in West Bengal. Yet again yesterday, more lives were lost when an express train rammed into another stationary train in West Bengal. Till now death toll stands at 63 while more than 100 people are injured. Uttarbanga Express, which was supposed to stop at the station was speeding close to 60 km per hour, while the other train, which was not supposed to stop at the station was halting there. The whole situation seems odd but in the end it was the unalarmed passengers who lost their lives. Now the blame game will start, or I should say it has already started. The minister who is responsible for Indian railways has already smelled “sabotage”- great strategy to point finger at unknown and get absolved from all the responsibility. I try to avoid writing about politics here and restrict to scientific stories, but sometimes I just can’t stop myself, especially when lives are hurt.
Where are the automatic anti-collision devices? Where are regular maintenance of the tracks, engines, regular trainings of personnel? Where are expenditure for modernising the largest transport carrier in the country? Rather than making Railways an instrument for political tactics, do some work damn politicians. Has life become so cheap in India? Why not just privatize the railways in India? The politicians who don’t want to work for a portfolio should never be given charge of that. Railway minister is more interested in local state politics of West Bengal, then why she even bother to be the Railways minister. On the same lines why Sharad Pawar who is agriculture minister is holding that portfolio when he is more interested in cricket and already expressed his inadequacy to handle too many jobs. Lives of people in India is in hands of these people who don’t even care and that scares me. Railways have been in shambles for quite long and money need to be spent on it’s modernization without any delay. I remember travelling during my school days in some parts of central idea and while crossing a bridge in MP, trains used to slow down and I used to ask why train slows down here and answer was that the bridge is weak and the rail tracks have expired and instead of replacing those tracks, trains ran slow. In short, just waiting for some accident to happen before the tracks can be replaced.
What makes me sad is that these accidents are avoidable and those lives could have been saved. The people who died will become just statistics in coming days, but those were living people the other day who had dreams, aspirations, life planned ahead and their families will have to suffer from this injustice all their life. Everything cut short and who is responsible?
Picture credit: NPR/AP