CAG finds holes in Rlys safety plan

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 4 2010, 06:48am hrs
The Railways track record in improving the rail safety standards is nothing but an example of complacency despite hundreds of lives being lost in accidents, the countrys top government auditor said on Tuesday. The finding was compiled in a report of Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) pertaining to 2008-09, which was tabled in Parliament. Railways Corporate Safety Plan (CSP) was prepared in 2003 with a total budget of Rs 31,835 crore for a period of 10 years to March 31, 2013. The money was to be spent on providing expansion of tracks, replacement of locomotives, constructing road over bridges and under bridges, training of drivers, annual safety audits, safety drives and regular maintenance of assets.

However, the CAG found deficiencies on all the counts. In fact, Railways failed in properly addressing the requirement of making rail tracks and equipment free of defects. The progress of modernisation and upgrade of training centres for imparting training to the staff on modern technology was found to be very slow. In addition, a total of 86,108 vacancies were there in safety category posts. Though human error proved to be the major cause of many accidents and resultant loss of life, the Indian Railways failed to provide improved facilities for the running staff, modernisation and upgrade of training facilities. Indian Railways was also not able to fill all the safety category staff vacancies, the report said.

Railways have been witnessing frequent accidents, latest being the collision between Vananchal Express and Uttarbanga Express last month killing over 60 people and injuring more. Since April 2010, the national transporter of passengers and goods witnessed 42 accidents, though lower than a year ago. The report shows their (railways) own targets were not met. It is not a complete washout but a lot needs to be done, deputy CAG Narendra Singh said.

The report also stated that the entity faced gaps in rolling stock due to failure of manufacturers in supplying the required quantity and absence of remedial actions by railways. Procedural delays marred freight capacity augmentation and dedicated freight corridor was still at a primitive stage. Due to these reasons, railways market share in freight loading has been sinking, Singh said.