Action against secy-rank officer, seven others
Muzaffarnagar/New Delhi: Cracking the whip over Utkal derailment, the Railways on Sunday sent on leave its three top officials, including a secretary-level Railway Board official, suspended four officers and transferred one.
Member (Engineering) of the Railway Board, Northern Railway General Manager and Divisional Regional Manager (Delhi) have been sent on leave in the wake of the derailment in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, the Railways said.
The Railways also suspended four of its officials - senior divisional engineer, assistant engineer, a senior section engineer (Permanent Way), responsible for track maintenance and a junior engineer.
Chief track engineer, Northern Railway, was transferred as part of the action by the Railways.
The derailment in Khatauli on Saturday evening resulted in the death of 22 people and injuries to over 150 others, 26 of whom are in critical condition.
Earlier in the day, railway officials had indicated that negligence at the local level appeared to have caused the derailment of Utkal Express. Reflecting on the incident, Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, said an initial probe has found that maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks which might have caused the derailment. "Prime facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks…. Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment of Utkal Express," Jamshed said, adding a probe would reveal if any maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks without permission.
"Prima facie, the information is that there is divisional responsibility involved if work was being done without seeking permission. By this evening we will know if any of our staff was responsible for this," he said.
A probe has been ordered to ascertain the exact cause of Saturday evening's derailment, with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday morning directing Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility on "prima facie evidence by the end of the day".
The railways have deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks near Khatauli.
Two 140-tonne cranes were being used since the wee hours on Sunday to clear the derailed coaches, from which survivors had been rescued and bodies pulled out till late Saturday night.
The rescue operation by the National Disaster Response Force got over at around 3 am on Sunday.
The death toll in the accident on Sunday went up to 22, with one more person identified as Sushil Kumar succumbing to his injuries in a hospital in Ghaziabad, according to District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar G S Priydarshi. Of them, 15 bodies have been identified.
Principal Secretary (Information) to the UP government Awanish Kumar Awasthi said 156 people were injured in the derailment and many among them remain critical.
The probe, which will begin Monday, will be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Shailesh Kumar Pathak, who will look into "every angle, be it sabotage, technical lapse or manual fault," Jamshed said.
He also said the RPF had lodged an FIR in the case at Khatauli under sections that included mischief causing the destruction of railway property, causing death by negligence, causing grievous hurt, endangering life and personal safety.