FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Utkal Express derailment: Why is our rail safety so appalling?
Updated:Aug 22, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By cracking the whip after Saturday’s dreadful train accident in Muzaffarnagar, railways minister Suresh Prabhu has addressed what had remained a crying need: Of holding the top rail bureaucracy accountable for its acts of omission and commission.
 
Only on two occasions in the 70 years of the country’s Independence has administrative action been initiated against the Grade-A officers of the Indian Railways after an accident. The last time such a development happened was in 2010, when a divisional railway manager was suspended following a train tragedy. Strangely, the suspension order was revoked within two days of the order.
 
Section 175 of the Railways Act of 1989 insulates Class-I category officers from culpability in train accidents, as it holds rail employees such as permanent way inspectors or supervisors as being responsible for accident ‘violations’. It can be argued that certain accidents could have been prevented, had the senior rail bureaucracy — from the general manager downwards — been more vigilant or particular in adhering to the schedule of on-line inspections.
 
Mindsets are an issue; but there are other serious challenges to rail safety. In the 64-year period from 1950 to 2016, passenger and freight traffic grew by 1,344% and 1,642% respectively, while the network increased by a mere 23% — causing huge network congestion. With the time available to carry out routine repairs (overhead signaling systems or tracks) having shrunk, short-cut methods — of the kind that caused the Muzaffarnagar accident — are being routinely resorted to.
 
The situation has worsened on account of the low spending on safety works. In 2009-10, for instance, Rs 1,102 crore was allocated for safety works (revised to Rs 923 crore), while the actual spending was Rs 906 crore. The following year, Rs 1,302 crore was allocated (revised to Rs 998 crore), while the actual spending was Rs 911 crore.
 
Manpower shortages have also not helped. Against the total sanctioned strength of 746,676 employees, 122,736 safety category posts (or 16% posts) are vacant; official records show. The need for setting up an independent safety regulator has also remained unaddressed.
 
To his credit, Mr Prabhu has made an effort to bring about a transformation in the way the transporter does its business. A rail safety fund with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh-crore has also been created. But, until these initiatives begin to bear fruit, the threat of a possible repeat of the Muzaffarnagar kind of mishaps will continue to hang.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Ties between India and Japan are probably at their best ever, Japanese Ambassador to India H.E. Kenji Hiramatsu told India Review & Analysis’ Nilova Roy Chaudhury, as he outlined how the two countries have moved closer. Ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit
 
read-more
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has complained to the United States about the greater role President Donald Trump wants for India in Afghanistan, according to media reports.
 
read-more
That regional cooperation in South Asia is lower than optimal levels is well accepted. It is usually ascribed to – the asymmetry in size between India and the rest, conflicts and historical political tensions, a trust deficit, limited transport connectivity, and onerous logistics, among many other factors.
 
read-more
Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan said ‘In order to become a more developed country, India has to get people who owe taxes to actually pay them.’ This is one of the major objectives that Modi sought to achieve though demonetization and he has largely succeeded.
 
read-more
  During the budget session of the legislative assembly, the Chief Minister informed the  House about state’s missing children. According to her, as many as 162 children have gone missing in the past three years.
 
read-more
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is expected to amend its constitution at the upcoming national congress.
 
read-more
Finally breaking her silence on the Rohingya exodus, Myanmar’s state counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has said that her government would like to understand the root causes of the refugee crisis and investigate charges of human rights abuses.
 
read-more
U.S. President Donald Trump’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal is not new. But by choosing his first address at the UN General Assembly
 
read-more
It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Column-image

This is the continuing amazing spiritual journey of a Muslim man from Kerala who plunged into Vedic religion after a chance encounter with a Hindu mystic under a jackfruit tree in the backyard of his house when he was just nine. It is a story w...

 
Column-image

History is told by the victors but in our modern age, even contemporary events get - or are given - a slant, where some contributors soon get eclipsed from the narrative or their images tarnished.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive