Railways yet to complete payment of compensation to Tezgam victims

Updated February 25, 2020

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73 were killed in Tezgam train inferno near Rahim Yar Khan in October of last year. — Adnan Sheikh/File
73 were killed in Tezgam train inferno near Rahim Yar Khan in October of last year. — Adnan Sheikh/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways (PR) is yet to complete payment of compensation to the victims of Tezgam Express train accident that occurred on Oct 31 last year and officials of the Ministry of Railways informed the National Assembly’s standing committee on Monday that the process for payment of 16 cheques was being completed.

The committee members expressed reservations, particularly over the report of the federal government inspector of railways on the Tezgam Express train incident.

A senior official of the PR informed the committee that 58 cheques to the families of deceased and 34 cheques to the injured had been distributed through Postal Life Insurance, while the remaining 16 cheques would be delivered soon after completion of due process and scrutiny.

Railways Secretary Habibur Rehman Gilani and other officials of the ministry said that the final report on the Tezgam Express train incident has been submitted to the committee along with facts and figures, fixing of responsibility and recommendations.

Responding to questions by the committee members, Secretary Gilani said that there were 77 identified deaths in the incident; 75 bodies were handed over to legal heirs and 10 unidentified bodies are still with the PR since their DNAs were not matched.

The standing committee meeting chaired by Mohammad Mueen Wattoo endorsed the budgetary proposals amounting to Rs30,989 million deman­d­ed by the Ministry of Railways and its attached departments for the ongoing projects under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) .

As far as the PSDP projects for fiscal year 2020-21 are concerned, the ministry officials said that new projects were under scrutiny by the Planning and Development Division and the Ministry of Finance; however, no allocations have so far been indicated.

The committee asked the railways officials to provide a list of new projects at the earliest.

Over 70 people lost their lives in one of the most horrifying train accidents in the country’s history when three bogies of moving Tezgam Express, going from Karachi to Rawalpindi, caught fire near Rahim Yar Khan.

The fire was believed to have been caused by the blast of a gas cylinder being used by some passengers for cooking food in the moving train. But no final report on the incident has so far been made public.

The Islamabad High Court has recently expressed anger at the interior and railways ministries for failing to submit the inquiry report in the Tezgam accident case.

Many of those killed in the incident were said to be going to Raiwind for the tableeghi congregation.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid had told the media after the incident that two of the coaches that caught fire were booked under the name of an emir of the tableeghi jamaat.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020