Indictment of Indian Railways

Indictment of Indian Railways

The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has, in a series of recent reports to parliament, made scathing criticism of a number of aspects of the functioning of Indian Railways. The national auditor has found the railways deficient in ensuring safety in trains,    maintaining cleanliness, providing facilities to passengers and in the timely completion of its projects. It has noted the increasing expenditure of the railways and its inability to generate enough income to meet the expenses. Last year, too, in its reports, the CAG had mentioned some issues that need to be addressed for the overall improvement of the railways. It has also suggested some measures to improve the working and the finances of the organisation.  

Ensuring the safety of passengers should receive the highest priority in the railways but the CAG has found serious lapses in this area. Track maintenance is much below par and the laid down guidelines and instructions relating to safety are not followed. Maintenance plans are missing and there is staff shortage in many categories related to safety. While there is a shortage of funds, available funds are not put to the best use. Many of the plans and activities that are presented as important suffer from lack of professionalism and inefficiency. Accidents happen almost every day in some part of the country due to human error or for other reasons. There is a trend among railway authorities to downplay the seriousness and frequency of accidents. When a passenger buys a ticket, the railways have the responsibility to ensure the safety of his or her person and belongings. The CAG has drawn attention to this responsibility and underlined the need for the organisation to live up to it.  

Many of the problems that afflict the railways are known. The solutions and the difficulties in implementing the solutions are also known. They are often discussed when a new minister takes charge, when accidents take place, at the time of the budget or when a new commission presents its report. But the situation hardly improves. Indeed, there is deterioration in many respects. The CAG has also criticised the railways for providing food that is "unfit for human consumption" and dirty linen. Many of the operational parameters have seen a steady decline. More funds are needed to tackle many of these problems but some of them can be resolved with greater efficiency and commitment. The CAG has also suggested hiking of fares, at least in the higher classes. It is a moot question as to what happens to such reports that are submitted to parliament and what the railways do with them.  

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry