Railway employees will face departmental inquiry

ST CORRESPONDENT
Monday, 28 January 2019

Inquiry committee for hoarding collapse at Juna Bazaar submits its report

Pune: The inquiry committee formed by Central Railways (CR) after a giant hoarding collapsed at Juna Bazaar on October 5, 2018 in which four people were killed, has found that some Railway employees will face departmental inquiry while the advertising contractor, who had installed the hoarding, and another contractor, who was hired to remove it, are primarily held responsible for the incident.

The Pune Railway Division has issued a statement, “The inquiry committee, formed to probe the hoarding collapse incident of October 5, submitted its report and it has been accepted by the concerned authority. The contractor hired to remove the hoarding and the advertising agency, who had installed the hoarding, have been primarily held responsible. On the basis of the recommendations of the committee, the administration will also start departmental action against some of the Railway staffers.”

The statement did not mention the detailed findings and recommendations of the committee. Railway officials with Pune division as well as those in CR headquarters in Mumbai refused to elaborate. 
One of the highly placed sources from the division said that few Railway employees, who are directly involved in negligence of hoarding collapse, will face a departmental inquiry.
 
While the private contractors have been held primarily responsible for the accident, some railway officials were found to have failed to perform ‘supervision duties’.

Interestingly, Bombay High Court had granted Abdul Faqih of Caption Advertising, which had installed the hoardings, bail in November 2018 observing that prima facie, he can’t be held responsible for the mishap. “…prima facie indicates that the Central Railway had taken a decision to remove the hoarding/structures either through the Agency or through the Railways’ Engineering Department…in my considered view, applicant­ Abdul cannot prima facie be held responsible for non-removal of the said hoardings and consequently cannot be held responsible for the tragic incident that occurred on October 5, 2018,” Justice Anuja Prabhudesai had said.

On October 5, a 40-feet tall and 40-feet wide metal structure, part of a hoarding installed on Railway land, had collapsed on the road, crushing vehicles and motorists, who were waiting for the red light to turn green. Four persons had died in the incident while 11 others had sustained serious 
injuries. Soon after the accident, Railway authorities had promised to conduct a speedy inquiry ‘within 15 days’ and ensure that ‘no one who is responsible for the mishap will be spared’. 

The panel comprised AK Singh, Deputy Chief Engineer (bridge); Shiv Kumar, Deputy Chief Safety Officer (engineering); KV Thomas, Deputy Chief Commercial Mmanager (claims), (all are from Mumbai Zonal Office) and D Vikas, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner from Pune.

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