Railway security alarmingly inadequate: Parliamentary panel

August 27th, 2010 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) A parliamentary panel has “noted with deep concern” that the security apparatus of Indian Railways was inadequate and recommended that steps be taken to ensure safety of staff and passengers of one of the world’s largest railway networks.
“The issue of protection and security of railway property and passengers continues to be a crucial concern which needs urgent coordinated action,” Parliamentary Standing Committee on security noted in a report tabled in the Lok Sabha Friday.

The report on railway security stresses that it was high time that “utmost priority” be accorded for protection and security of the railways to enable it to provide world class services.

The Indian Railways caters to over 6,900 million passengers annually, covering over 64,000 km route length.

“The committee has noted with deep concern that bullet-proof jackets, helmets, poly-carbonated lathis (canes), shields, binoculars, fluorescent tapes, dragon search lights, are still under procurement,” the report says.

The report assumes significance in the wake of changed security scenario in the country, particularly with Maoist guerrillas repeatedly targeting trains in the east and central India - also referred to as ‘Red Belt’ because of the dominance of Leftist rebels.

The report says that under Western Railways, which has more than 800 railway stations, only 300 bullet-proof jackets have been made available to security personnel.

“All requisite security related equipment should be procured within a specific time-frame, without compromising on the quality of the product as such insufficient and inadequate provisions can seriously undermine safety and security of both passengers and railway property,” it says.

The committee has “found to its dissatisfaction that only a handful of AK-47 rifles” were made available to the railway security forces even as they have been provided with sophisticated modern weapons like pistols, carbines, INSAS rifles, SLR and LMG.

“The indent for procuring 3,000 AK-47 rifles is pending with the Ministry of Home Affairs since 2007.”

Taking a “serious view of the matter”, the committee has “desired that there should not be any further delay whatsoever in such matters, failing which the safety and security of passengers and property would be seriously imperilled and compromised”.

Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest networks in the world employing around 1.4 million regular employees.

Expressing “deep concern at the frequent rail accidents leading to loss of many innocent lives, the committee considers that installation of Anti Collision Devices (ACDs) in trains as vital to prevent such tragedies.

“The committee has found the pace of installing the ACDs still unsatisfactory for various reasons,” says the report.

It has noted with concern the slow response of accident relief medical vans and accident relief trains in times of accidents and emergencies.

“It takes approximately three to four hours for such vans to reach the site of the accident and it is recommended that ways and means should be found to ensure that the vans are at site within two hours.

“Simultaneously, the railways should be able to mobilize relief, rescue and medical assistance locally in an expeditious manner”.

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