Railways indicted for 2013 Kumbh Mela stampede

Railways indicted for 2013 Kumbh Mela stampede

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has indicted the Railways for its “poor coordination” at Kumbh Mela in Allahabad last year in which 37 people died and 45 were injured following a stampede on February 10.

The report has found several loopholes in the railways’ disaster management plans.
The report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, says that the railways failed to establish proper coordination with the state government for crowd management at  Allahabad station, including diversion of pilgrim rush from the Allahabad station. The report says that despite elaborate plans the Northern Central Railway had made for the event, it was “unable to ensure that pilgrims were diverted away from the Allahabad station”.

“They failed to establish proper coordination with the state authorities to block the influx of pilgrims towards Allahabad station and to divert them to the other seven designated mela stations or to stagger their return as per their plan,” says the report.
“No evidence has been found that any proper steps were taken by the Railway administration to divert the rush to other mela stations/night shelters,” the report stated. 

“For the special bathing days, when a larger than normal crowd was expected, the railways had planned to stagger the outflow of pilgrims from Allahabad by running extra mela special trains on three consecutive days after the bathing date. Only announcements regarding the trains being run from all stations were regularly made. The stampede that occurred at the station highlights the lack of close coordination and cooperation with the state government,” the report has pointed out. “Further, effective crowd management required close cooperation and coordination between both the security wings of the railways i.e. the RPF and GRP,” it adds.

“It also focuses on the absence of a specific disaster management plan. In fact, the railways' definition of disaster does not cover a manmade disaster like a stampede,” the CAG stated. “In fact, the railways require to formulate a well-thought out Disaster Management Plan for immediate response to any unexpected incident which can occur due to the pressure of large crowds,” the CAG has recommended.

“This plan would need to include provision of quick medical treatment and adequate and effective deployment of security personnel to ensure timely action for crowd management,” it further suggested.
DH News Service

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