The horrific train Accident at Balasore, Odisha has once again exposed the tragic state of affairs of railway safety in India. While crores are being spent on flagging off expensive trains by the PM, the rail safety had been left in shambles.
Not only presentation of separate railway budget was scrapped, the independent railway safety body Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) has been rendered ineffective with its powers clipped.
The budgetary allocations on railway safety is a serious matter that has been ignored in last many budgets by the government. CRS had flagged multiple loopholes in railway safety in India, but it's reports and recommendations were ignored by the government.
Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pointed out to glaring disregard to safety by the railways as it spend 15-20 per cent of the money (about Rs 2,300 crore) on non-priority areas (non-railway safety) from the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK). Further, it was pointed out that a substantial part of the RRSK fund, aimed at improving rail safety was not utilised. The March 2021 CAG report noted that decline in fund availability and non-utilisation of available funds for track renewals led to 26% of derailments since 2017-18.
We owe an answer to the victims and to the families who lost their near and dear ones in this mishap.
The Govt must immediately initiate an independent inquiry under the Commission of Railway Safety to investigate the incident involving Coromandal Express. Rather than clipping the powers of CRS, the Commission must be strengthened to ensure such accidents don't happen again.
With railway being the largest sector in India, the rail budget must be reintroduced to ensure safety of the passengers.
- CPIML Liberation
June 3, 2023