On a day a train derailed in Uttar Pradesh, members in the Rajya Sabha today voiced concern over the safety of the railways and raised questions over upgradation of its infrastructure.
On a day a train derailed in Uttar Pradesh, members in the Rajya Sabha today voiced concern over the safety of the railways and raised questions over upgradation of its infrastructure. Participating in a debate Appropriation (Railways) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Vandana Chauhan of the NCP said India has had one of the worst years as far as railway safety is concerned as over 180 people have died in accidents, the highest since 2010. India also saw derailment of 62 trains in 2016 as compared to 37 in 2015, she said, adding this showed a 70 per cent rise in a single year. Chauhan said a lot of people say that most of these incidents could perhaps have been prevented if the railways had taken adequate precautions.
Interestingly, the debate took place on a day when Delhi-bound Mahakaushal Express derailed due to rail fracture near Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh, resulting in injuries to at least 10 people. Chauhan sought to know about the plan to set up 35,000 CCTVs at 1,000 stations across the country. Chauhan said that in 2016-17 revenue from passenger traffic decreased by 6 per cent of the budget estimate whereas revenue from freight traffic has also been decreasing over the years.
The NCP MP said the railways was facing a challenge from the Indian aviation sector as air prices are achieving real parity in terms of AC passenger fares. Shiv Pratap Shukla (BJP) asked the Railways ministry to focus more on safety provisions in order to make the network better in terms of accidents. Husain Dalwai (Congress), while giving example of bullet trains in China, asked the government to seek ways to increase speed of trains in India.
Alok Tiwari (SP) said the government was not focussing on safety initiatives. Mukul Roy (AITC) attacked the government on safety provisions, saying that the current dispensation was not serious about the upgrading the safety infrastruture in the railways network. Ripun Bora (Congress) asked the government to focus on safety measures. He said that all other steps were futile if there were chances of accidents due to fragile infrastructure. K K Ragesh (CPI-M) said the government is trying to privatise the railways and by doing so, it was abdicating its responsibility of providing affordable mode of transport to the people of the country.
He said his party has objection to this move. As he was speaking, opposition members drew the attention of the Chair towards the absence of even a single cabinet minister in the House. They termed the absence of ministers as insult of the Rajya Sabha. The opposition members then demanded that the House be adjourned till the minister came. However, soon Steel Minister Birender Singh arrived in the House, because of which the commotion ended.