Safety measures to prevent train accidents: SC seeks details from Centre

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought to know from the Centre about the protective measures implemented or proposed to be implemented, including the automatic train protection system ‘Kavach’, to prevent train accidents in the country.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and K V Viswanathan was hearing a petition which raised the issue of safety measures to prevent train accidents.

The bench asked petitioner Vishal Tiwari to hand over a copy of his plea to the office of the Attorney General.

It said the Attorney General shall apprise the court about the protective measures which are implemented or proposed to be implemented by the government, including the ‘Kavach’ scheme.

The bench posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.

Tiwari told the apex court that his plea raises issue of public safety measures.

Referring to the train accident in Odisha’s Balasore district in June last year that had left 288 people dead, the petitioner said a protection system was launched by the government so that collision of trains could be prevented.

He said lot of accidents have taken place in the past due to collision of trains.

“Is there any kind of exercise undertaken that how much financial implication will be there on the ‘Kavach’ system in case it is introduced on a pan-India basis,” the bench asked.

“Everything has co-relation with financial aspect because ultimately the burden will be passed on to the passengers,” it observed.

Tiwari, while arguing that the government was running so many projects, highlighted that life and safety of people was important.

He said the government should apprise the top court about the steps taken by them in this regard.

The plea has sought directions to the Centre to set up an expert commission headed by a retired judge of the apex court and consisting of technical members to analyse and review the risk and safety parameters in the railway system and to suggest systematic safety modifications for strengthening the safety mechanism and submit its report to the court.

It claimed 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.

It has also sought issuance of guidelines for the implementation of the ‘kavach’ system in Indian Railways with immediate effect.

The plea sought specific directions to the government for the enforcement of the Railway Accidents Protective measures and to strengthen such measures to avoid accidents in the future and safeguard the fundamental right of life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

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Referring to train accidents that have taken place in the country in the last three decades, it said authorities have been slow in providing redress in developing a safety enforcement mechanism against such collisions and accidents.

“The enforcement of safety mechanisms of train protection system is still not done at ground level throughout the country as it has been clearly proven that Kavach, which is an Automatic Train Protection System, was still not applied on this route “, the plea said.

The plea said there was an absolute necessity of installing the ‘kavach’ protection system at the earliest without which no train movement should continue.

The petition was filed days after the crash involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, which were carrying around 2,500 passengers, and a goods train occurred in June last year near Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore.

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