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CAG report blames Indian Railways for 2013 Kumbh Mela stampede

PTI 29 Nov 2014, 9:36:54 AM IST
PTI

New Delhi: The lack of proper coordination and disaster management plan on the part of railways resulted in the stampede at Allahabad station during last year's Maha Kumbh Mela in which 37 persons were killed, the CAG has said.

"There was no Railway Disaster Management Plan for Kumbh Mela," the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in its latest report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

During Shahi Snan when the state government expected about 3.05 crore pilgrims to visit the mela and 4.10 lakh passengers to utilise trains, a major stampede took place at platform No. 6 of Allahabad station that resulted in loss of 37 lives and injuries to 48.

The CAG, while reviewing the arrangements, observed the lack of proper coordination with the state administration by railways.

"Railway administration failed to establish proper coordination with the state government authorities for crowd management at station," the report said.

The CAG has found that railways failed to block the influx of pilgrims towards station including their diversion to designated mela stations which led to build up of a huge crowd at Allahabad station itself.
Maha Kumbh Mela 2013 was held from January 14 to March 10 at Allahabad wherein 12 crore pilgrims participated. To handle the rush of pilgrims the three zonal railways - North Central, Northern and North Eastern - made special arrangements for the pilgrims such as running special trains, provisions for safety and security, besides providing other basic amenities.

According to the CAG report, the Mela officer of NCR zone was required to coordinate with nodal officers of the other two zones for the running of special trains and to divert pilgrim traffic from Allahabad to the other Mela stations.

However, CAG noted that no document for it was available. The CAG also noted shortfall in deployment of security staff during the Mela.

"There was a shortfall of 33 per cent in deployment of security staff at Allahabad station to ensure safety and security of passengers... On the day of stampede this shortfall in deployment was 48 per cent," it said.

Finding fault with the railway management, the CAG said, "The management in movement of special trains during the Mela period was not proper. There was shortfall in special trains run by the three rail zones on the three important bathing days and immediately thereafter when large crowds were anticipated in Allahabad area."

It further said that no alternative arrangements were planned for the movement of freight trains to ease the path for Mela Special Trains.

"This in fact adversely impacted the smooth running of Mela Special Trains as these were an addition on an already over-burdened system."

The CAG also observed that the movement of special trains from Allahabad station between February 9 and 11 was very slow and their detention on station was excessive.