Biswa Bhusan Mohapatra
Bhubaneswar, Jun 10 (IANS): The Odisha government, which is treated as a model state in disaster management, once again proved that it can quickly respond and manage any kind of disaster. The quick action and team work with proper coordination with line agencies, saved many precious lives from the devastating triple train accident that took place on June 2 evening.
Even though 288 persons were killed in the train accident, the death figure might be much higher, if the government could not have acted timely, an official said.
Within just few times after the devastated triple train accident occurred at Bahanaga, a rural area of Balasore district, entire state administration starting from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the block and village-level officials swung into action and saved lives of at least 1200 persons who were injured in the mishap.
The locals of Bahanga area are the first ones who responded to the accident and started a massive rescue operation without waiting for anyone. This shows how the people of Odisha came together to help others, who are totally unknown to them. This shows a successful story of Odisha government's community participation initiatives in disaster management.
Balasore collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde got a call from his field official about the accident of a passenger train. He immediately informed the control room and asked ODRAF and fire service teams stationed at Balsore to quickly move to the spot.
The collector, who himself was on way to the accident spot, quickly informed the Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena about the mishap at around 7.10 p.m.
When the news flashed in different media, no one had a clue that such a massive accident would have happened.
Sensing the gravity and scale of the tragedy, its consequences, Jena along with development commissioner Anu Garg rushed to the state emergency control room and prepared an action plan to tackle the disaster.
Nine senior officers of the state government were rushed to Balasore within 45 minutes - among them were Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Satyabrata Sahu, Industries Secretary Hemand Sharma, DG Fire Services Sudhanshu Sarangi, Transport Commissioner Amitabh Thakur, IAS officers Balwant Singh, Arvind Agarwal, IG Himanshu Lal and DG GRP.
When the larger picture of the accident came to notice, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked Revenue Minister Pramila Mallik to proceed towards the accident spot, who monitored the entire rescue operation throughout the night.
Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena along with three of his colleagues started closely monitoring the situation at ground from state headquarters with coordination with all line departments and agencies.
A proper supply chain and management structure was established immediately in the night. The Control Room at the SRC office started functioning with full capacity. The state team ensured free flow of all required resources to the spot.
All required logistics like ambulances, flood light, gas cutters, cranes, DG sets, doctors, medicines, stretchers, etc, were made available quickly at the accident spot.
Not only the district administration of Balasore and Bhadrak engaged in the operation, all other neighbouring districts including Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack and Khurda came in rescue of the victims.
Sharing details of the massive operation before the media, SRC Sahu said he got information about the accident around 7.55 p.m. As he was out of town, he reached the accident site at 11.30 p.m. Other senior officers also rushed to the spot by that time.
"By 12 at night, almost all injured persons, around 1200, had been rescued by local people, ODRAF teams and Fire Service officials. Then, NDRF teams also reached there and recovered the dead bodies," Sahu said.
Within golden hours, the injured persons have been rescued and admitted in hospitals, he said, adding, the most challenging part was to carry out the rescue in the night. Immediately, flood lights were arranged and the entire area was lit, Sahu said, adding, "Due to a complete team effort, we were able to save 1200 precious lives."
Industries secretary Hemant Sharma, who was also a part of the team, shared, "This was an unfortunate incident. But the death toll could have been much much higher, if the government of Odisha would not have intervened on time."
As the ODRAF and Fire Service teams equipped with all required equipment reached the accident spot on time, the lives of 1200 people have been saved, he said.
"Within the shorter time, we made all advance arrangements like mobilisation of adequate doctors, ambulances, medicines and other essential items. That's why the local hospitals were able to handle such a huge number of injured persons at one time," Sharma added.
The state government did not stop after the rescue operation and admitted the injured in the hospitals, it is still now in a mission mode to hand over the dead bodies to their family members and send them home safely free of cost.
The state government is bearing the transportation cost of bodies of the triple train accident victims to different states, Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena said.