Reported By: Akash Sharma
Last Updated: June 05, 2023, 21:15 IST
Following the tragic train accident in Odisha’s Balasore, various concerns have been raised regarding safety. The Railway has now released data regarding the financial outlay incurred for safety measures, track maintenance and the corresponding expenditure in recent years. The data shows 2.5x expenditure on safety-related works in the last nine years.
“Reports have been using the CAG data in a selective manner and this data is not presented with correct reference. Whatever happened is unfortunate but the incident should not be used to spread misinformation,” said an official from Railway.
Referring to Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) which was created in 2017 for Civil Engineering Works, Safety works at Level Crossings, S&T Works, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Human Resources, it has been highlighted that railways spent more than Rs 1 lakh crore on these works in next five years. The fund covers almost everything that includes track works, Bridge rehabilitation, Vehicular ultrasound testing system for rail/welds, broken rail detection, LC elimination, Train Collision Avoidance Systems and other things.
As it was a non-lapsable fund, in February 2022, the Government of India extended the validity of RRSK by another five years, starting 2022-23. “The report number 22 of 2022, of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Derailment in Indian Railways was laid on the floor of the house on 21.12.2022. The coverage of RRSK utilization, in the report, is limited to three years – 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20,” said a railway official.
As per data, track renewal is an important component of Safety. Expenditure on Track Renewal during 2017-18 to 2021-22, has reflected a steady growth. From Rs 8884 crore in 2017-18, the expenditure on track renewal increased to Rs 13,522 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 16558 crore in 2021-22. In total, Railway spent Rs 58,045 crore on track renewal, during this period.
The expenditure on track renewal on Indian Railways has increased from Rs 47,039 crore during 2004-05 to 2013-14 to Rs 1,09,023 crore during 2014-15 to 2023-24, reflecting an increase of more than double.
Similarly, expenditure on safety-related works, which include track renewal, bridges, level crossing, ROB/RUBs, signalling works etc has increased from Rs 70274 crore during 2004-05 to 2013-14 to Rs 178012 crore during 2014-15 to 2023- 24, reflecting an increase of more than two and a half times.
“Railways is a national carrier. Whosoever is responsible for this accident will be punished but the right perspective should go to the countrymen,” said the officer.