Medak: Telangana government has blamed Railways for the school bus-train collision here today in which 18 persons, including 16 children were killed, alleging that despite repeated requests, no effort was made by the department to put up gate at the unmanned level crossing.

Telangana Home Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy, who visited a private hospital where injured students are undergoing treatment, told reporters that action should be taken against SCR officials for the negligence.

“The villagers have been requesting the Railways to put up a gate and man the crossing. Several memorandums were given, but nothing has been done in this regard. Stern action should be taken against SCR general manager and other officials concerned,” Reddy said.

“Due to utter negligence of Railway department many precious lives have been lost. We demand the SCR should immediately make necessary arrangements to erect the gate,” he added.

State Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao, who visited the accident spot, also made similar allegation and demanded that the crossing should be manned immediately.

“Telangana government will ensure that families of the victims get Rs 5 lakh (each) as ex-gratia. All the medical expenses for the injured children will be borne by the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, the SCR officials said as per Motor vehicle Act and Indian Railways Act, road users should be cautious while crossing rail tracks at unmanned crossings.

They said warning boards, road signs and speed breakers have been set up at all manned and unmanned railway crossings under the limits of SCR.

“We are in the process of eliminating all unmanned level crossings by 2016-17. In the last four years, gates were put up at 514 unmanned level crossings and the process is underway to place gates at remaining 640 unmanned crossings,” a senior SCR official said, adding that till then the road users need to exercise caution while crossing such places.

Such incidents have come down to just one in 2013-14 from five in 2011-12 and three in 2012-13, officials said.

YSR Congress party chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy was among those who visited the accident site and condoled the grieving parents of the deceased students.

BJP Telangana unit president G Kishan Reddy said a high-level inquiry into the tragic incident should be ordered by the government.

Railway department should immediately take care of all unmanned gates in the state, he added.

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