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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

the tragic Tamil Nadu Express accident and indulgence of Mukul Roy

During days of yore, the Kings and Noblemen led a lavish life and were treated with reverence….  – the English had Counts, Nobles, Lords and more – in India  we had Zamindars and other landowners who expected royal treatment wherever they went….

Sadly more than 30 lives were lost due to the fire in a coach of the Tamil Nadu Express near Nellore.  Authorities  state  that 25 persons were injured in the incident. Railways have  announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for  those who died due to the fire. Here are the developments as they happened through the day.  There is announcement that Standing Committee on Railways will work out ways to prevent recurrence of ‘gory’ mishaps like on the New Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express and present them before Parliament.

There are some reports that one of the recommendations of the  panel  is provision of a simple ladder or equivalent feature with a permanent fitment or foldable and deployable provisionfor assisting passengers to get down from coaches in the event of accident; Unfortunately most of the safety facilities have not been implemented due to a lack of funds !!!!!.

Long years ago, a Minister by name Lal Bahadur Shastri took moral responsibility for a rail accident at Ariyalur and resigned his post.. but now the Railway Minister first spoke of ‘sabotage not being ruled out’ then spoke of the utmost care that Railways was taking for the nearly 20,000 trains  running every day and then retreated to state that the cause of mishap was yet to be ascertained.

The ghastly accident occurred immediately after the Tamilnadu Express left Nellore, anciently known as "Vikrama Simhapuri".  Nellore located on the banks of Pennar river  is about 170 km from Chennai, is on the Chennai-Kolkata national located on the banks of the Penna river.   If you travel by Pinakini Express it would take less than 3 hours and with the good road, one can reach the place in more of less similar time by road also.   

Not for people like the Railway Minister Mukul Roy – he had to visit the spot but did so very reluctantly.  More than 12 hours after the horrific train blaze, the Minister was still in Kolkatta citing poor connectivity to Nellore.  

From Nellore, he reached Chennai in a plush luxurious train coach.  The New Indian Express reports of the royal treatment that Union Railway Minister Mukul Roy received after he arrived from Nellore in a special “luxury” train.  It states that visitors to the station fumed at the insensitivity the elaborate drama portrayed just hours after the Tamil Nadu Express tragedy that killed scores. They wondered if the minister and the officials were serious when they expressed their condolence following the tragedy.  The drama began minutes before the coach carrying the minister arrived at 3 am. Two workers were seen spraying room fresheners across Platform 6 where the coach was to be stationed. Ironically, it was the same platform where the train carrying survivors from Nellore arrived on Monday. Once stationed, there was a strong contingent of railway police who cordoned off the area near the platform. When Express inquired with the makers of the coach, it was revealed that it was one with luxurious and fully furnished interiors with a section for resting, a meeting room and an attached kitchen. It was called a “GM Saloon,” which is estimated to cost around Rs 1.5 crore to make, sources at the Integral Coach Factory said.

Two electricians, it was claimed by a Southern Railway official on the spot, were kept on standby, apparently to ensure uninterrupted power supply to his luxury compartment. Ironical, given the fact that the fire in the Tamil Nadu Express has been attributed to a suspected short circuit. Roy, who arrived in the coach at 3 am spent about one and a half hours “taking rest”.  As he got up at 4.30 am, there was frenetic  activity to provide the minister with refreshments, even as railway guards routinely took their places near the coach door.  However, the most important scene was played out when a worker brought a special doormat, which the guards claimed was made of wool, and placed it just beneath the door for the minister to step on as he exited the compartment. Roy then met the media before leaving to the airport.

Mukul roy stepping out at Central : Photo courtesy : The New Indian Express

Passengers at the Central were hardly amused by the pomposity.  Many wondered if “there was a king” inside the coach. A person was quoted as asking  “We passengers, who pay the taxes and for the tickets, are given coaches that leak and catch fire. The minister, who gets his salary from our taxes, is treated like a royal. I am pained by this, especially when we are all mourning the death of those poor souls in the tragedy,” adding that it was insensitive to station the luxury coach at the Central station, the original destination of those who traveled in the ill-fated S11 compartment of the Tamil Nadu Express. 

Mukul Roy the current Railway Minister of India, is a member of the Rajya Sabha representing West Bengal. He also serves as the General Secretary of his party, the All India Trinamool Congress. . After Mamata Banerjee resigned as the Railway Minister she was to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Roy was handed additional charge of the Railway Ministry after Mamata didi expressed her desire that her party retain the Railway Ministry. On July 11, 2011, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed Mukul Roy to visit the site of derailment of the Guwahati-Puri Express in Assam he openly defied him. This brought a lot of displeasure among the political circles and he was shunted out of the Railways portfolio in the cabinet reshuffle in July, 2011.

Dinesh Trivedi also from TMC was the Railway Minister till Mamata expressed her discontent with the increase in passenger fares, and demanded his resignation, after which  Mukul became the Railway Minister again.   There have been four major train accidents this year. In February, a passenger train derailed after striking a construction vehicle in Assam, killing three and injuring 50. On May 22, a major accident involving the Hampi Express and a goods train in Andhra Pradesh killed 25 people. Within 10 days, the Howrah-Dehradun Express derailed in Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh on May 31.

Safety is the immediate concern and it requires those in power to understand the travails of the common public – only then the commoners can hope for any solution….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
1st August 2012.


  1. shame on these politicians and fie on the spineless PM - the witch Sonia should be sent out of the country.... Prem

  2. Yes you are right,I agree with you.Politicians never understand common man problems.
    Regards : spine surgery in India

  3. these people should travel in unreserved compartments to understand what they provide to people - to paid travellers.... without paying they enjoy luxury and would never understand the commonman's troubles - punish them...... Pablo

  4. Hi
    I am quoting your blog on my FB, hope you would not mind.
    The behavior of Mr Roy is so awful and insensitive.