Infrastructure, safety projects postponed

Infrastructure, safety projects postponed

A recession hit railways on Tuesday postponed its safety and infrastructure projects for the post-2014 budget. The cash starved public enterprise had to go slow on safety projects despite its willingness to take it up within the current budget.

The implementation of two high level committee reports on safety and modernisation has also been put on hold. The railways was left with no option but to delay their plans partly due to the Union government’s refusal to increase budgetary support.

Officials from within the rail ministry were expecting a liberal budgetary support from the finance ministry, which did not materialise. The budgetary support has been increased only by Rs 2,000 crore, while they had asked for an increase of up to Rs 14,000 crore.

The Planning Commission has been opposed to an increased budgetary support and wants the railways to up its internal resources.

The increase in revenue by way of surcharges on passenger travel and from hike in freight rates will be used to offset the increased cost of diesel. The resource crunch forced postponement of introduction of important safety equipments devised indigenously to avoid collisions.

The budget mentions that “Train Collision Avoidance System” (TCAS) would be put for further trials. In fact, the railways has been claiming its succes since October.

 Union Rail Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has acknowledged that the High Level Committee on Safety headed by Anil Kakodkar and the Committee on Modernisation headed by Sam Pitroda “have laid down the road map for improving safety and ushering in modernisation of railways.”

However, he did not mention any plan to implement the recommendation. He said, “Some of the recommendations have been taken up, the rest are under active consideration.”

The fragile financial position will hardly allow for speedy elimination of level crossings which causes 60 per cent of the casualties.

The railways are in need of Rs 37,000 crore for eliminating manned and un-manned level crossings.

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