Panel to check use of sub-standard materials in Railway coaches
The Centre today told the Supreme Court that a high-power committee has been constituted to look into the allegation of use of sub-standard materials inside Railway coaches which causes asphyxiation deaths due to inhalation of toxic gases during fire incidents.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao asked the petitioner, a Delhi-based lawyer, to make a representation before the panel and give his sugestions on the issue.
"The committee should consider his suggestions, if any," the bench said while disposing of the matter.
The apex court had earlier sought responses of the Centre and the Railways on the plea which alleged that the supply of sub-standard materials for train coaches was due to the existence of a "nexus" between a cartel of vendors and the officials.
The court had also issued notices to departments concerned of the Railways -- Railway Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) Ltd, two Rail Coach Factories of Kapurthala in Punjab and Lalganj, Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
"Deaths are caused due to asphyxiation by inhalation of toxic gases, engulfing the Railways' passenger coaches. This toxicity is caused from poisonous gases released by inferior and sub-standard quality of materials used by Indian Railways in interior furnishings, which are all around the passengers," the petition, filed by advocate Abhay Singh, claimed.
"The matter needs to be investigated and resolved at the earliest as the hapless passengers are being subjected to risking their lives while travelling in trains run by the Government of India, funded by the tax payers' money and is considered as a safe and affordable mode of travel," it said.
Singh has sought several directions including that sub- standard materials be collected from railway coaches and treated by an approved laboratory in the presence of independent parties.
He also sought a ban on the materials presently used in cushions, cushion covers, curtains, flooring and wood partitioning in coaches.
The PIL has said the apex court should direct the Railways to replace the "faulty" material in all coaches presently in service and test them for conformance of Fire and Safety standards.