Victims` family members weep at a business park used as temporary mortuary to identify the dead recovered from the carriage wreckage of a three-train collision near Balasore, in India`s eastern state of Odisha, on June 4, 2023. Pic/AFP
The tragic train accident in Odisha's Balasore district claimed at least 288 lives and left more than 1000 injured. It has been receiving strong reactions from the opposition parties seeking accountability from the government in power. As rescue operations and inquiries are underway, the opposition Congress party has demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, holding the government responsible for the tragedy.
Here are ten key points of the latest developments in connection to the Odisha train accident:
PIL in apex court: A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the establishment of an inquiry commission headed by a retired judge to probe the cause of the accident. The plea filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari also sought directions to the Centre to immediately set up an expert commission headed by retired judge of the apex court and consisting of technical members.
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Review safety parameters: The PIL also demands the formation of an expert commission to analyze and review safety parameters in the railway system. The plea submitted that non-implementation of Kavach system at the earliest has resulted in a massive loss of life and damage of public property which imputes direct liability of gross negligence and breach of duty of care by respondent authorities.
Demanding resignation: The Congress party has called for the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, holding the government accountable for the tragedy. The Congress party also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should accept part of the responsibility of the "mess" which his government has inflicted on the Indian Railways and the people.
MHA assisting investigation: The Ministry of Home Affairs is reportedly assisting the Railway Board in the rescue and investigation of the train accident in Odisha's Balasore district.
Sibal's take: Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal criticized the government for allocating multiple ministries to one minister and questioned their ability to handle such responsibilities. "Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for IT and Electronics, Minister for Railways. No Railway Budget. No Accountability. One minister cannot deal with such large ministries. Bullet Trains. Vande Bharat. Serve the extraordinary, let down the ordinary! Recipe for disaster !" Kapil Sibal said in a Tweet.
Minsiter's clarification: Railway Minister Vaishnaw clarified that the accident was not caused by the absence of the 'Kavach' anti-collision system.
Ex-gratia: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased. "The next of kin of the deceased will get the assistance of Rs 5 lakh and those who sustained serious injuries will get Rs 1 lakh as assistance," the Office of the Chief Minister (CMO) Odisha said.
Restoration work: Restoration work is ongoing at the accident site, with the aim of reopening the track soon.
Unknown bodies: Unidentified bodies of passengers are being kept in AIIMS Bhubaneshwar and various other hospitals and medical colleges for identification.
Doctors in action: A team of doctors and experts from the AIIMS and other central hospitals of Delhi have reportedly been rushed to Bhubaneswar through a special IAF flight to provide medical assistance to those injured in the deadly Odisha train accident.