Blame game begins over deadly train accident in eastern India

21:44, July 21, 2010      

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The political blame game began Wednesday over the train accident in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal that claimed over 66 lives Monday.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), the ruling party of West Bengal, said it believed that the actions of Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee were unforgivable.

"Now the answer needs to be taken from the railway department. Initially, they said that there was no help and cooperation form the state government. Then, we had said that all kinds of help was extended. Now we must see what the Railways did," said the chairman of Left Front, which represents CPI-M and other leftwing parties, Biman Bose.

Banerjee has been under attack over her preoccupation with the state politics of West Bengal rather than concentrating on the Union Railway Ministry.

Meanwhile, Banerjee, who does not seem to be perturbed by the statements of the CPM, held a massive rally in Kolkata Wednesday.

Banerjee is the chairman of the opposition party in West Bengal and was nominated Railway minister after allying with the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government last May.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy has put the onus of the Sainthia crash and the Gyaneshwari Express attack on the CPM, accusing them of "scientific killing".

"The people of Bengal were already tortured and oppressed and now this tragedy has taken place. I can tell that there are people who can commit such acts," Roy said.

Also Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has raised questions about what he calls the "slow response" to the Bengal train accident.

Chidambaram said the first relief train after the Sainthia accident reached the site two and a half hours late, and the second relief train was late by seven hours, a critical delay in response that is unacceptable.

He regretted the enormous delay in rescue and relief teams reaching the train accident site at Sainthia in West Bengal and said use of helicopters or small planes on such occasions should be looked into.

He stated that the capacity of disaster management is tested only when a disasters strikes and one has to increase their capacity.

"I was informed that the first relief team could leave only about two hours and 30 minutes after the accident happened. The second team could only leave seven hours after the accident and they had to drive for about 220 km which means there is a clear gap in the mobility of the disaster team," he said.

"So we need to increase our capacity to be able to move disaster relief teams quickly which means perhaps helicopters, small planes. All this would cost money but I think capacity has to be built," he added.

A speeding train hit the rear part of another stationary strain at a railway station here early Monday, causing heavy human casualties.

This is the second time in less than two months a major train mishap took place in West Bengal. On May 28, 148 people were killed when a train derailed and was hit by a cargo train.

Source: Xinhua


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