Rail Accident: Angry Prabhu sends three top officers on leave

New Delhi: Aiming to crack down hard on the negligent officer in the railways, the railway ministry on Sunday has asked three senior officers to go on a leave, which also includes a member of the railway board in the Kahatauli tradgedy.  

Hit hard by the accident and criticism by opposition parties, the ministry sent railway board member (engineering) Aditya Kumar Mittal, Northern Railways general manager R K Kulshrestha and divisional railway manager R N Singh on leave till further orders. Mittal was going to retire at the end of this month, but the strict action will send a signal to top officials about the current dispensation's zero tolerance towards accidents. According to a report in "The Times of India", Four officers, including the senior divisional engineer, Delhi division, were suspended while the chief track engineer was transferred.

Earlier, the railway minister Suresh Prabhi has signalled that responosibility will be fixed for the accident that claimed 23 lives here on Saturday.  The unprecedented move against senior officers comes at a time when railway minister Suresh Prabhu is under attack by opposition parties over rising accidents and under pressure to act.

On Sunday, Prabhu asked A K Mittal, chairman, railway board, to fix responsibility for the Utkal Express accident by evening. In a tweet, Prabhu said, "Will not allow laxity in operations by the board. Have directed CRB to fix responsibility on prima facie evidence by end of day."

TOI has reported the driver of the train was unaware of track maintenance being carried out at the spot where the mishap occurred. An official said, "This is the first time in recent history that a member who is a secretary-level officer has been punished and sent on leave. The action reflects government's zero tolerance against accidents."