This refers to the article, “Nightmare in Ariyalur, a brave tale from 1956” (Open Page, March 2), and the letter by D. Rajasingh Simon (March 4). Just two months before the spine-chilling accident at Ariyalur, I had joined the Railways as a draughtsman in the Chief Engineer’s office. After the accident, all heads of departments were asked to rush to the site and give spot instructions for the safe passage of survivors, clearing of derailed rakes and the restoration of traffic. A few days later, I was asked to accompany a technical team to survey the catchment area both upstream and downstream of the bridge across the Maruthaiyar where the accident had occurred. Going about our work was a horrible experience as we came across limbs, bones and other human remains. A foul smell hung over the area. At the accident spot, the existing vent-way of the bridge was found to have been inadequate to discharge the flow from a flash flood of the kind that had breached the embankment under the rails and had caused the accident.
It was after this accident that the Railways formed a “Floods Division”, which would periodically review waterways near all major bridges, taking into consideration the maximum flood discharge from the catchment area upstream of and recommend rebuilding in cases where the vent-ways were found to be inadequate.