Puri, March 26 (LocalWire): The recent fire in three vacant coaches of the Puri-Hatia Tapaswini Express at Puri railway station on Friday raised questions on the security of one of the major stations of the state.
Puri is an important pilgrim destination and attracts thousands of tourists through the rail network. On an average, around 5000 passengers commute through the station and 20 trains originate from here.
Though the station is covered under CCTV surveillance and there is continuous patrolling by the GRP and the RPF, the absence of a boundary wall around the station has led to unauthorized entry of miscreants. Locals allege a number of addicts smoke marijuana in the vacant coaches increasing the chances of fire.
Sources in the Railways said as per the standard procedure, compartments of trains departing from the station need to be locked before being sent to the washing line. However, it is alleged, the coaches are not locked providing an easy access to addicts.
‘Vacant coaches have become a haven for marijuana addicts. Though there is checking at the entry and exit point at the station, most addicts access the station from the areas that are not barricaded,’ said a local resident.
Railway officials said they are working on a plan to beef up security in the station premises. ‘Entry of unauthorized people will be banned in the station area. Besides, we are also reviewing the CCTV surveillance system in the station,’ said a senior official of the East Coast Railway.
‘Luckily, there have been no casualties in the mishaps. But easy access to the station area poses a threat to the safety of passengers. The station is also vulnerable to any kind of terror attack,” said passenger Suryakant Mishra.
Prior to this incident, fire had also broken out in three vacant trains stationed at Puri railway station in November, 2015. The three affected trains were New Delhi-Puri Nandankanan Express, Tirupati-Puri Express and Puri-Howrah Express. However, no one was injured in the incident and police ruled out any terror angle.