The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a charge-sheet against three Railway officials in connection with the triple train collision in Odisha’s Balasore on June 2, which led to the death of nearly 291 people.
Among those arraigned are Arun Kumar Mahanta, who worked as a Senior Sectional Engineer (Signal) in Balasore; Mohammed Amir Khan, then posted as Sectional Engineer in Soro; and technician Pappu Kumar, who was posted in Balasore.
The agency has invoked Sections 304 (Part II), pertaining to an act committed with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death but without any intention to cause death or any bodily injury as is likely to cause death; 34 (common intention) read with 201 (causing disappearance of evidence and giving false information); and 153 (endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by wilful act or omission) of the Railways Act.
The CBI has alleged that the three officials attempted to destroy evidence to evade detection of their role, following the collision.
Along with forensic experts, the agency officials had earlier visited the collision site after taking over the probe to gather evidence. They recorded statements of the officials concerned and also examined the signalling system to determine if there was any foul play, technical glitch, or human error leading to the incident.
An inquiry team found that a fault in the wiring in a location box (which has cables that control signalling functions) near Bahanaga Bazaar Railway Station had gone undetected by the Signal and Telecom (S&T) staff. The Commission of Railway Safety noted in its report that the rear collision had occurred owing to certain “lapses in the signalling-circuit-alteration” at a north signal cabin of Bahanaga Bazaar Railway Station.
In Frames | A glimpse of the triple train tragedy in Odisha’s Balasore district
Locals, security personnel and NDRF conduct search and rescue operation at the site where Coromandel, Bengaluru-Howrah Express trains derailed on June 2 night, in Balasore district.
South Central Railway (SCR) officials, who sounded an alert on the major train mishap occurred in Odisha, has said that Help Desks have been set up at Vijayawada and Rajahmundry railway stations.
Ambulances rush to the accident spot in Balasore on the highway on June 2 night.
Local people and volunteers gathered at the Soro hospital to help the injured train passengers near by the accident spot in Balasore district.
An official on June 2 said that a goods train too was involved in the accident as the coaches of the Coromandel Express hit its wagons after getting derailed.
Injured passengers were taken to the Hospitals of Gopalpur, Khantapara, Balasore, Bhadrak and Soro.
In view of the deadly accident, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared one-day State mourning on June 3 in view of the tragic rail accident.
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has also solicited the help of the Air Force in the rescue operations.
On June 3, efforts were underway to cut the only bogie which was severely damaged after the horrific train accident in Odisha’s Balasore, state Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said.
The accident took place exactly near the Bahanaga Baazar station in Balasore district, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar.
For the benefit of the stranded passengers buses have been arranged in both Balasore and Bhadrak directions. Special trains will also run between Bhadrak-Chennai and Balasore-Howrah.
A drone view shows the derailed coaches.
The TMC demanded Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s resignation over the horrific triple train crash in neighbouring Odisha. TMC’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee alleged that the Centre neglected the installation of anti-collision devices in trains to prevent such accidents.
Irregularities in the execution of signalling work connected to the replacement of the Electric Lifting Barrier (ELB) at the Level Crossing Gate 94 were also allegedly detected. The notes logged in the data logger device from 3 p.m. to 11.58 p.m. on June 2 were also examined to reconstruct the sequence of events.
As alleged, the senior Railway officials found that about four hours after the accident, Mr. Mahanta had come to know from the test room that the indication of the point was still showing normal, although the point machines were damaged. Also, a labelling mistake had allegedly gone unnoticed by the ground staff since 2018.
When the wiring work on the control operation of the ELB was being done, the S&T staff had taken F23 and F24 terminals as “spare”, as shown in circuit diagrams, and rewired the new ELB connection to those terminals. Consequently, the feed coming from crossover 17A/B, the place where the accident took place, to 17 NWKR circuit was disconnected, due to which the indication feed of green signal was de-linked from the ground status, it was alleged.