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Kanchanjunga Express Accident: PM Modi promises Rs 2 lakh compensation to deceased passengers

Railway Minister Vaishnaw later announced that the compensation amounts would be increased, with Rs 10 lakh being provided in case of death, Rs 2.5 lakh for serious injuries, and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries

In a tragic incident on Monday, a collision between a freight train and the Kanchanjunga Express Accident heading to Sealdah occurred near Rangapani station in West Bengal, resulting in eight fatalities and approximately 60 injuries. The collision caused the derailment of the express train’s last three carriages, leading to the deaths of both the loco-pilot and the motorman of the freight train.

Rescue teams from both the state government and Indian Railways were promptly dispatched to the crash site situated between New Jalpaiguri and Rangapani stations. The ongoing rainfall in the area posed additional challenges for the rescue efforts, which involved manually repositioning the derailed compartments to rescue any passengers still trapped inside.

The incident has necessitated the diversion of at least ten other trains on this route.

Government and Railway officials’ response

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been actively involved, communicating with railway officials to monitor the situation closely. He has also instructed Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to visit the site personally. Through a social media post, PM Modi expressed his condolences to those who have lost loved ones and wished for a swift recovery for those injured. He confirmed that rescue operations are in full swing and announced an ex gratia payment from the PMNRF of Rs 2 lakh for each deceased’s next of kin, with Rs 50,000 being allocated for each injured individual.

Railway Minister Vaishnaw later announced that the compensation amounts would be increased, with Rs 10 lakh being provided in case of death, Rs 2.5 lakh for serious injuries, and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries.

To assist those concerned about passengers aboard the Kanchanjunga Express, helpline numbers have been established. Minister of State for Railways, Ravneet Singh Bittu shared these numbers via social media, ensuring that information and support are readily available.

The accident took place around 9 am as the 13174 Kanchanjunga Express was en route from Agartala to Sealdah. Jaya Varma Sinha, Chairman and CEO of the Railway Board, confirmed that along with the driver and assistant driver of the goods train, the guard of the Kanchenjunga Express also perished in this unfortunate event. She stated that rescue operations have concluded and help desks have been set up along the affected route.

West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee immediately mobilized senior administrative officials, medical teams, ambulances, and disaster response units to the site upon learning about the accident. She is also making her way from Kolkata to Darjeeling to oversee rescue operations firsthand.

Similarly, Railway Minister Vaishnaw is traveling to Darjeeling to assess the situation at the accident site. He confirmed that senior officials are already present at the location and that rescue efforts are being conducted expeditiously.

Kanchanjunga Express Accident
Image Source: Wikipedia

The nation’s leaders have extended their condolences following this heartbreaking event. President Droupadi Murmu shared her sorrow over the loss of lives and wished for a prompt recovery for those injured. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Home Minister Amit Shah also conveyed their sympathies and reassured that all possible assistance is being provided.

The opposition has called for accountability in light of this tragedy. Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge expressed their condolences and emphasized concerns regarding passenger safety on Indian Railways. They urged Congress workers to aid in relief efforts and demanded immediate compensation for victims’ families.

Lalu Yadav of RJD questioned who bears responsibility for recurring railway accidents in India, while CPI leader D Raja highlighted broader issues within railway security that need urgent attention.

The Trinamool Congress has gone as far as demanding Railway Minister Vaishnaw’s resignation over this incident.

As recovery efforts continue, unaffected sections of the Kanchanjunga Express have proceeded towards Malda Town. Passengers have been provided with necessities as restoration work at the crash site is underway.

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Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

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