Sunday, 22 January 2017

Why always a " High Level Inquiry " ?



Yesterday , there was a train accident in Andhra Pradesh when 41 persons died
This was the THIRD such serious train accident in past 3 months

May be twentieth such accident in past 10 years

Railway Minister has ordered a " high level inquiry " ( apart from usual ex-gratia payments )

Being an ignoramus, I wondered, " Why a high level inquiry ? Why not a low level inquiry ? "

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks !

All those previous " high level inquiry " reports are already on the server of the Railway Ministry , in word format

All that the committee appointed for this purpose has to do is :

*  Change the Date / Time / Location of the accident

*  Change the name of the train

*  Change the appendix carrying the names of the victims

*  Change the names of the members of the Inquiry Committee ( mostly unnecessary ! )

*  Change the date of submission of the report


In fact , by the time the Members of the Inquiry Committee return to Delhi , after inspection of the accident site , the departmental data-entry operator has already made these changes and kept the print out ready for the signature of the Members !


Now , who says , Railway Ministry is inefficient ?


Should however, Shri Suresh Prabhu be interested in a " LOW LEVEL SUGGESTION " for " how to prevent train accidents " , I request him to read once again , my following email ( 20 Nov 2016  ) :

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A Case of Misplaced Priority ?



Yesterday , there was a terrible train accident near Kanpur


As per latest reports , some 100 persons got killed and around 100 got injured


Government was quick to announce a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs to the kin of those dead and Rs 50,000 to the injured


So , to the Government , apart from the loss to the property , the ECONOMIC LOSS was , approx Rs 2.5 Crore


And if someone were to fight this case in the Courts ( for next 5 years ? ) , the Court might award Rs 1 crore per dead ( loss of earning capacity at Rs 2.5 lakh per year for 40 years )


That would add another Rs 100 Crore of " Economic Cost ", to the government


But what about the  EMOTIONAL  LOSS of the bereaved family  ?


It is just not possible to attach a monetary value to the life-long sufferings of those families


I believe , we have lost ( on ave ) , some 50 lives to major train accidents , each year for the past 22 years ( not counting ave of 10 persons who get run over by Mumbai local trains , EVERY  DAY  !  )


View this in the background of Government plan to spend Rs 1,00,000 CRORES , for a Bullet Train between Mumbai and Ahmadabad, which will transport 600 persons in 2 hours , in place of the current travel time of 8 hours


So , what will we gain for this enormous " Economic Cost " ?


Some people will save 6 hours of travel time !


Even as 50 persons continue to die each year in train accidents , which are , largely preventable !


And , very likely , implementing technological solution for saving these lives  would cost , less than Rs 1,000 cr  !



Major causes of train accidents are :

#    Fractured rails ( as is suspected in the present case )

#    Loose anchor bolts

#    Sagging rails due to washed out foundation

#    Jammed track-switching mechanisms

#    Faulty Signals...etc


And , of course , " human errors of judgment "



How come such train accidents rarely happen in Developed / Advanced countries , despite the fact that their trains run 2 / 4 times as fast as ours ?


Simple answer :


They have implemented technological solutions ( Data Acquisition Devices and Software ) , which , not only monitor / detect the " faults / failures " described above , but , they alert the train-traffic management team in real time , on large screens in their TRAFFIC  CONTROL  ROOM


And , if the person watching that TRAFFIC  FAULT  SCREEN , is slow to respond ( to take a corrective action ) , the software will bring the train to a halt , on its own !


If our ISRO scientists / engineers can detect a tiny fuel leak in our rockets / satellites , from thousands of kilometers away ,- and make course correction in milliseconds ,  there is no reason to doubt their capability to find a technical solution to prevent train accidents


I have no doubt that Shri Suresh Prabhu will re-arrange his priorities  !

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23  Jan  2017

www.hemenparekh.in / blogs



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