CAG finds railways surrendering safety funds

CAG finds railways surrendering safety funds

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has reported of gross underutilisation of Rail Safety Fund (RSF) meant for upgrading level crossings and construction of roads, over bridges and roads under bridges. 

“Huge surrender of funds, thus, indicated low priority being accorded to safety works,” says CAG report tabled in Parliament this week.

According to the report, level crossings at railroad intersections present a significant risk of accidents. In the Indian Railways, 992 lives were lost in level crossing accidents during the period from 2006-07 to 2010-11. There were 33,957 level crossings out of which 16,463 were unmanned.

The CAG audit studied the implementation of policy with respect to safety works covering the period from 2006-07 to 2010-2011. During the period, the railway department not only made less budgetary allotment from the funds available with the RSF, but also surrendered a major part of it that was allotted in the budget.

“The study revealed gross under utilisation of funds from Railway Safety Fund since inception in April 2002. During 2006-07 to 2010-11, Budget allotment was less than 45 per cent of available funds while in 60 per cent of works, 80 per cent of the fund allotted were surrendered,” says the CAG report.

As a result, there were 1,490 level crossings which had either high road-rail traffic or were in Rajdhani routes which remained unmanned. Also, safety enhancement devices such as lifting barriers, interlocking and telephones, were not provided to eligible cases. Road over bridges and road under bridges, are yet to be sanctioned for many eligible level crossings. The report reveals that many of the bridges were sanctioned decades back.

The RSF is financed through receipts of Central Road Fund collected from levy of cess of Re 1 per litre on diesel and petrol.

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