The government of India preaches a lot about disaster management on television in a glamorous way but in actuality does nothing at grass root level. The lives of many people in Kalka Mail derailment would have been saved had relief measures started earlier with state-of-the-art facilities. What sort of disaster management we have when the people trapped in tragic circumstances remain at the mercy of God for hours? It’s really unfortunate that even the necessary tools like Gas cutter are unavailable and those available just don’t work in times of need.
The recent Kalka Mail tragedy near Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, India on 10 July 2011 led to the death of 69 people and as many as 140 people got injured in the incident. The packed train was running at the speed of 108 km/h on the Howrah – New Delhi Line when its 15 coaches got derailed near Malwa station under mysterious circumstances. The initial reports submitted by the Railways do not throw much light on the cause of the accident other than throwing light on the poor condition of the tracks. The Railway officials love to pass the buck either to the Station Master, Driver and Signal Men but this time none of them were involved. Majority of the reports get closed after treating them as cause of accident. Lot of noise is made during the time of accidents but passage of time makes each accident a bygone affair.
The spot where the Kalka Mail accident took place is an infamous one as several other minor accidents in past involving Sangam Express have taken place nearly at the same spot. The Railway is one of the profit making institutions but it’s surprising that there is no healthy process evolved to make passengers really have a “Happy journey” which the every ticked issued by the railway wishes. The Railway stations are always in the mess, the tracks are in poor condition and if the passenger is able to avoid the accidents it’s hard for him/her to avoid dacoits and robbers. The newer forms of protest in which people involved in the agitation either block the rail route or cause harm to the rail tracks have further increased the woes of the railway officials.
The Railways is at present like the ship without the captain. It’s officers are already overburdened with work yet they hope to run super-fast trains like their Asian counterparts Japan and China on tracks in which a train running at speed of 108 km/h have its coaches overturned like pack of cards. The railway is a milch cow but look at the state of disaster management that people are dying in front of the eyes and all railway officials can do is ponder over as to why gas cutter is not working! The localities are the first ones to reach in any rail tragedy, who always manage to save many precious lives.
The relief measures initiated by the Railways is always slow and comprised of staff not in league with state-of-the-art facilities. Ironically, in all calamities of greater magnitude we are but compelled to take help of army people. In our country virtually all the rail bridges over the rivers are almost century old.These bridges require urgent replacement as per railway manual but Indian railway has turned a blind eye towards the bridges hanging in precarious position.Whenever I am journeying via Delhi Howrah track and train comes to pass the Naini Rail bridge over Yamuna river I feel like having one’s heart in one’s mouth. I always notice some work going on this bridge. However, such cosmetic gestures are not enough for these century old bridges.
The government involved in petty politics need to take care of the emergency services. It need not to make Railways a mean to make people land at the doors of Yamraja (Lord of death). I wonder our Ministers can pay so much attention to the trivial affairs but what makes them so casual towards the lives of ordinary citizens? Let’s not turn a brilliant institution like Railways into a white elephant. It’s our national pride and, therefore, let’s make it more safe and responsible. Let’s remove the loopholes instead of giving way to cheap excuses at time of tragedies when people are dying a slow death before our eyes.