Rlys sits on safety panel report

High-level committee submitted its recommendations two years ago

The inferno in the AC coach of the Nanded Express has once again brought to the fore the delay on the part of the Railways to streamline safety measures.

The report of the High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) submitted about two years ago is still under discussion in the railway ministry.

The HLSRC has made 106 recommendations, covering all aspects of safety and also wants job vacancies related to safety aspects to be filled within six months. The Railways is yet to fill up about 1.5 lakh vacancies in safety-related jobs, out of the total 1.8 lakh vacancies.

Recently, the railway ministry compiled comments of its various directorates on the HLSRC report and sent it to the Railway Board members. The board is now discussing the implementation.

The committee, headed by nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, recommended allocation of Rs one lakh crore in the next five years to modernise safety in railways.

The committee wants a complete change in the safety scenario and suggested that Rs 5,000 crore be collected from passengers a year as safety cess. The report of the committee that was formed by the then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi has been overlooked by his successors as they find it unable to pressure the finance ministry to increase budgetary support to the crisis-ridden railways.

The report suggests implementation of the Advanced Signalling System through a Special Purpose Vehicle and an expert group on technical issues, at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore for 19,000 route kilometres on the trunk route.

It has suggested elimination of all level crossings (manned and unmanned) at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore over five years.

The committee has suggested setting up of research and development infrastructures in a big way. The mode of funding suggested by the committee includes safety cess on passengers, deferred dividend, road cess, matching grants by the Centre.

It has suggested annual mobilisation of Rs 20,000 crore from these sources to meet the requirement of Rs one lakh crore in the next five years to improve the safety environment in the Railways.

The HLSRC has recommended taking away the task of recruiting safety staff from the Railway Recruitment Board and introduction of an IT-based recruitment system to speed up the process.

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