The Bihar train tragedy
Whenever some accident or disasters happens in India, whether it is natural like Uttarakhand floods or man-made like the recent train accident of Bihar, one thing becomes outright clear that there is no coordination between the administration and different authorities in our country. Whether it’s the rescue operations of Uttarakhand floods where the Home Minister himself admitted that there is no coordination between the State and Central Governments or the lack of preparedness in case of the stampede in railway station while Kumbh mela was going on , the attitude of government remains the same. And now the train accident of August 19 in Bihar has the same story to tell. Even the exact number of casualities is not clear to the Government. CM Shri Nitish Kumar said that 37 pilgrims died . But next day the Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury countered him by saying that the death toll was 28.
The Railways and State authorities are playing the blame game and trying to exculpate themselves but neither of them can claim innocence. Being the last Monday of the holy month of Shravan people were supposed to come in a large number to the revered Katyani Sthan Temple at Khagariya district. The railway authorities should have known this fact. One can rightly say that the pilgrims should have known that the tracks are not for walking but another fact is that, for the pilgrims the only way to reach the temple was through these tracks only since there are no roads in that remote area. Even the rescue workers, district and police officials had to walk over three kilometers, cross a river and walk along the ‘railway tracks’ to reach the site of accident!
Local administration is at clear fault here. When in the month of Shravan people from nearby areas gather in the temple of Katyani Sthan in large numbers, State government should have made arrangements to accommodate them and to facilitate their stay. But unfortunately it was not done. There are not even hospitals in the area.
Such gatherings are not just religious festivals but they are also very significant economic activities. The pilgrims can be a major source of income for the local people. It is evident from the fact that in Haridwar due to kanwar yatras around three thousand rupees business is done every year. If the local administration would have invested in building good roads, traveling and lodging facilities to the pilgrims it would have significantly helped the local residents to earn an extra income and the pilgrims would also not have been compelled to walk on the railway tracks risking their lives.
No doubt burning the trains or beating its drivers is utmost idiocy and culprits must be punished. But along with them we must also try to eradicate the root cause of this accident. It is the lack of facilities and complete absence of coordination between the authorities which has lead to this misfortune.