CBI accuses railway official of unapproved repair work leading to Odisha train tragedytext_fields
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated in court that unapproved repair work, conducted with awareness of the potential consequences, was undertaken at a level crossing near the station in Odisha where a devastating triple-train tragedy occurred in June.
The incident resulted in the loss of 296 lives. This information was presented by the CBI while opposing the bail plea of Arun Kumar Mahanta, a Senior Section Engineer (Signal In-charge) and one of the railway officials apprehended in connection with the fatal crash.
Arun Kumar Mahanta sought bail from the special CBI court in Bhubaneswar, which has been overseeing the case.
In response to his request, the investigative agency detailed that the repair work at the level crossing gate number 94 near Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, Odisha, was carried out without proper authorisation. The senior divisional signal and telecom engineer's approval was not obtained, and no approved circuit diagram was followed during the execution.
The CBI's submission to the court further elaborated, "The typical circuit diagram of another level crossing gate No.79 was being used at the time of execution of wiring work being done at North Goomty of Bahanaga Bazar Railway Station, for changing the operation of level crossing gate No.94 from 110-volt AC to 24-volt DC."
The agency highlighted that Arun Kumar Mahanta was directly overseeing the repair work at the specified level crossing gate, and the actions were undertaken "with the knowledge of the consequences."
In response, Mahanta's legal counsel argued that the concerned level crossing gate had been experiencing operational issues for a period, but his superiors had not taken "active action." The responsibility for supervision, the counsel contended, had been "entrusted to some other persons," thereby suggesting Mahanta's non-involvement in the accident.
However, the court denied bail to Arun Kumar Mahanta, underscoring that as per the manual, he was obligated to ensure that the signal and interlocking installations were tested, overhauled, and altered in accordance with approved plans and instructions. The court's ruling also noted, "From the material available on record, it prima facie shows the complicity of the present accused-petitioner for the commission of the said offences."
The tragic incident on June 2 involved the Kolkata-Chennai Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, and a goods train. It resulted in the loss of over 296 lives and left more than 1,000 people injured. The accident stands as one of the most devastating rail disasters in India over the past two decades.