Odisha tragedy CRS report: lapses at multiple levels, Cong criticises Centre

It is surprising that the entire blame in the CRS report for the accidents has been imposed on the station master

An arial view as the rescue force continue work at the accident site in Balasore, Odisha (photo: Getty Images)
An arial view as the rescue force continue work at the accident site in Balasore, Odisha (photo: Getty Images)

NH Digital

Following its investigation of the Balasore train accident, the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) on Sunday, July 2 reported that “lapses at multiple levels” within the signalling and telecommunications (S&T) department eventually culminated in the tragedy in Odisha.

The CRS, which comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, is the central government entity that investigates railway safety and railway incidents.

The report stated that erroneous labelling of the wires inside the level crossing location box remained undisclosed for years. Eventually, due to maintenance work, it led to a mix-up. The report also held that the tragedy could have been averted if the system had not ignored past red flags, according to the Indian Express

The Odisha’s Balasore accident has been considered one of the most devastating in the history of the Indian railways—292 people died and over 1,100 people were injured in this ghastly accident. 

On Tuesday, July 4, Congress criticised the ruling regime at the Centre led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for compromising the basic safety rules at the grassroots level, leading to the Balasore tragedy. Incidentally, it was the Indian Railways itself, under the Central railway ministry, that called for the CBI probe.

A.M. Chowdhary of the CRS, South Eastern Circle, who carried out the probe into the Balasore train accident, has found lapses at multiple levels in the S&T Department, sources claimed.

The report stated that in 2015, technicians had been guided on the maintenance procedure and it was duly approved on paper; “however, the circuit names… were not corrected on the terminal rack”. 

This CRS report was submitted on Wednesday, June 28 to the Railway Board, and it will be inaccessible to the public, according to the Hindustan Times. The HT's report quoted a railway authority as saying, “We will not disclose the CRS report because of another ongoing independent enquiry (that of the CBI). This is to ensure that this report does not, in any way, influence or interfere with the other report. We will take cognisance of both the reports and make an overall evaluation of the incident and then take whatever steps necessary.”

Another Indian Express report said that the probe found that the station operation staff and the signalling maintenance staff had been jointly held responsible for the accident.

According to the CRS investigation, on the day of the accident, the "signal maintainer" had produced a “disconnection memo” for the station master for the purposes of repair work. After the work was completed, a “reconnection memo” was issued, which meant the system was live and working. Unfortunately, the system of testing before allowing any train to pass was not followed. Hence, the report holds these two people largely culpable.

One Twitter user, citing a few extracts of the undisclosed CRS report, criticised the CRS and said that it is surprising that the entire blame for the accidents has been imposed on the station master, when the report also acknowledges past red flags were ignored and there was an acknowledged problem in the S&T equipment. 

The report also highlighted the "lapses in the signalling circuit alteration" carried out at the north signal goomty in the past, and during the execution of work related to the replacement of the electric lifting barrier for level crossing Gate 94 at the station.

Meanwhile, an anonymous letter was received on June 30 by the Indian Railways, 'warning' of a similar incident about to occur on the Delhi–Hyderabad line in the first week of July. The alleged threatening letter has resulted in a red alert across all zones of the railways.

Inputs from PTI

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines