The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on July 7 arrested two senior section engineers (signal) and a technician, on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and destruction of evidence in connection with the triple train collision in Odisha’s Balasore on June 2, leading to the death of at least 291 people.
According to the agency, those arrested are Arun Kumar Mahanta, who worked as a senior section engineer in Balasore; Mohammed Amir Khan, posted as a senior section engineer in Soro; and technician Pappu Kumar, who worked in Balasore. After the incident, the accused persons had attempted to destroy evidence to evade detection of their role.
After taking over the investigation, a CBI team visited the collision site along with forensic experts to gather evidence. It also recorded statements of the officials concerned and examined the signalling system to ascertain whether there was any foul play, technical glitch or human error, which led to the collision.
As reported in The Hindu earlier, a fault in the wiring in a location box near Bahanaga Bazaar railway station had gone undetected by the Signal and Telecom (S&T) staff. The location box has cables that control signalling functions.
The Commission of Railway Safety conducted the inquiry and noted in its report that the rear collision had happened due to certain “lapses in the signalling-circuit-alteration” at a north signal cabin of the Bahanaga Bazaar railway station. Irregularities in the execution of signalling work linked to the replacement of the electric lifting barrier at the level crossing gate 94 were allegedly detected.
The inquiry team had also examined the notes logged in the data logger device from 3 p.m. to 11.58 p.m. on June 2, to reconstruct the sequence of events. As it turned out, about five hours after the accident Mr. Mahanta had allegedly come to know from the test room that the indication of the point was still showing normal, despite the fact that the point machines were damaged.
Besides, a labelling mistake had allegedly gone unnoticed by the ground staff since 2018. It is alleged that when the wiring work on the control operation of the Electric Lifting Barrier (ELB) was being done, the S&T staff had taken F23 and F24 terminals as “spare”, as shown in the circuit diagrams, and rewired the new ELB connection to those terminals.
As a result, the feed coming from the crossover 17A/B, the place where the accident took place, to 17 NWKR circuit got disconnected, owing to which the indication feed of the green signal was disassociated from the ground status. Several other irregularities were also detected.