18 C
Guwahati
Saturday, March 2, 2024

Balasore Mishap An Eye-Opener

A recent Performance Audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reveals alarming deficiencies. Inspections conducted by track recording cars, which assess the structural and geometrical features of rail tracks, suffered from a shortfall of 30-100 percent. Of the 1129 derailments during the period of 2017-21, 422 were attributed to engineering problems, including inadequate track maintenance and deviation beyond permissible limits.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

The recent horrific train crash in Balasore district, Odisha has sent shockwaves throughout the country and beyond. With 288 lives lost and over 1100 injured, the collision between a speeding train and a stationary goods train has highlighted the pressing need to address the safety concerns in India’s railway system. While the government had been promoting Indian Railways as a smart and modern transport system, the Balasore incident has shattered this illusion, prompting a demand for a thorough investigation into the root causes of the tragedy. The Modi government’s emphasis on transforming Indian Railways into a speedy and technologically advanced system, exemplified by the inauguration of Vande Bharat trains and a substantial budget allocation of over INR 2.4 lakh crore, has created an atmosphere of hype. However, the Balasore crash serves as a heart-rending wake-up call, exposing the reality that all is not well within this massive transportation network. This tragic incident is not an isolated occurrence but rather a symptom of systemic issues within Indian Railways. A recent Performance Audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reveals alarming deficiencies. Inspections conducted by track recording cars, which assess the structural and geometrical features of rail tracks, suffered from a shortfall of 30-100 percent. Of the 1129 derailments during the period of 2017-21, 422 were attributed to engineering problems, including inadequate track maintenance and deviation beyond permissible limits.

The CAG report also highlights a funding shortage for necessary safety measures. Since 2017-18, safety-related works were brought under the Rashtriya Rail Samraksha Kosh (RRSK), with the railways expected to generate 20 percent of the allocated funds from their internal resources. However, due to the government’s cost-cutting policies, which require institutions to generate their own funds, the railways struggled to meet the financial burden. Consequently, the spending from RRSK declined, particularly for Priority 1 works addressing derailments and level crossings. Compounding these safety concerns is the severe shortage of manpower in the railways. The existence of nearly three lakh vacant non-gazetted posts has been acknowledged by the railway minister himself. The overworked loco staff, facing a shortage of 471 out of 5229 sanctioned positions in the south zone, are often forced to work for more than 12 hours consecutively. Such a critical shortage of personnel compromises the safety and well-being of both railway employees and passengers.

- Advertisement -

Prime Minister Modi and his government must demonstrate a commitment to accountability and responsible governance by holding themselves answerable for this devastating disaster. It is high time that the Modi government takes immediate action to address the deep-rooted safety concerns plaguing Indian Railways. A comprehensive assessment of the railway system’s infrastructure, track maintenance, signaling systems, and human resource requirements is imperative. Adequate funding, strict adherence to safety protocols, and transparent decision-making processes must be prioritized to prevent such tragic accidents in the future. The Balasore train crash should serve as a wake-up call for the nation and a catalyst for transformative change within Indian Railways. The lives lost and the lessons learned from this tragedy must not be forgotten. The government, the railway authorities, and the public at large must unite in their efforts to rebuild and restore trust in the railway system, ensuring that the safety and well-being of passengers remain paramount. Only then can Indian Railways truly become a safe, efficient, and reliable mode of transportation for all.

 

- Advertisement -
The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
Latest news
- Advertisement -
Related news
- Advertisement -