New Delhi, Aug 20: A day after the Haridwar-bound Utkal Express derailed near Muzaffarnagar’s Khatauli, the Ministry of Railways swung into action, suspending 4 officials and sending 3 others on leave.

Those who have been indefinitely suspended include a senior divisional engineer, an assistant engineer, a senior section engineer (Permanent Way), responsible for track maintenance, and a junior engineer. Three others –  DRM (Delhi) R N Singh and GM (Northern Railway) R K Kulshrestha and Railway Board Engineering Member (Secretary Level) – were sent on leave.

Here are the major developments in the case:

– The action against the above officials came hours after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered the Railway Board to fix accountability by the end of the day, “based upon the prima facie evidence” collected so far.

– Earlier in the day, the Railway Board registered a first information report, or FIR, against unknown people for causing deaths due to negligence, mischief and damaging Railway property.

– An audio clip in which a Railway employee could be heard explaining a reporter about the alleged negligence which led to the accident would also be probed, the Railway Board said.

– The Railway employee could be heard saying: “Welding work was underway at a section of the railway track… but the workers did not fix the block of the track and left it loose. Gates near the crossing were closed. A piece (of the track) was not fixed and when the Utkal Express arrived, 14 of its coaches got derailed.”

– Railway Board Member Md Jamshed, while addressing the media today, said action against those found to be negligent would be taken as soon as the prima facie evidence emerge in the case.

– “We have manuals for every work that is being carried out therefore we will go through those manuals and see if any rules and guidelines were broken. Strict action would be taken against those found guilty,” he said.

– As per the figures stated by Md Jamshed, the total of 20 deaths were caused due to the derailment incident, whereas, 92 are left injured. However, media reports said 24 passengers were killed in the mishap, and nearly 150 injured. The Railways have announced a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh to kin of those deceased, along with Rs 50,000 to those injured.

– The All India Railwaymen Federation chief Shiv Gopal Mishra told that there are primarily two major reasons which have caused the number of derailment incidents over the past two years: Decrease in Railway expenditure and slow pace of hirings. “Every year, nearly 46,000 employees retire. In the manner in which Railways is spreading its scale of operation, the amount of hiring is inadequate,” he said.

– Mishra said he had appealed Prabhu earlier to increase the hiring of trained personnel, rather than contractualising work. “The contractual workers are incompetent and not technically sound,” he claimed, further adding, “My message to the Railway Minister is that abort the misconception that things would turn accurate if you hand it over to the private hands.”

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