Gauhati High Court gives notice to Indian Railways over broad gauge loopholes

The Gauhati High Court has fined Indian Railways authorities for failing to comply with safety guidelines on the construction of a broad gauge line from Lumding to Silchar in Assam state. On hearing a PIL filed by the All Barak Youth Students Association, a division bench comprising Chief Justice (Acting) N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Soumitra Saikia recently granted the Ministry of Railways, the Railway Board and the Northeast Frontier four weeks. Railway zone – to respond to the messages, a PTI report said. The petition stated that the work on converting a meter gauge to a broad gauge line to connect Barak Valley, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram was approved in 1996-97 and declared a national project in the year 2004. From 21 November 2015 passenger trains started on the broad gauge.

According to the PIL, during the renovation work, the chief audit director had warned the Indian Railways authorities in his theme-based audit report that the construction work had started without an adequate geotechnical investigation. The petition, citing the report, said the project will derail due to poor planning and failure to visualize the behavior of the soil layers on the part of the national carrier.

In addition, the PIL also said that the CRS had pointed to a series of major loopholes in its report. The Railway Safety Commissioner had suggested that the Indian Railways Administration engage geotechnology experts to critically review the status and propose appropriate preventive measures, it said. However, the PIL claimed that Indian Railways authorities have proceeded without repairing serious deficiencies, despite the negative views expressed in the expert report.

Earlier this year, massive landslides, mudslides and heavy rains wreaked havoc in Dima Hasao, which lies between Lumding and Silchar, and affected all of its communication channels. The only rail link connecting Dima Hasao district and Barak Valley, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura to the rest of India was also washed away. The people of Dima Hasao and South Assam are paying the price for failing to comply with the CRS report, the PIL further said.

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