Railways yet to install Integrated Security System at >100 Sensitive Railway Stations

Railways is also facing a shortage of sniffer dogs, crucial for detection of explosives at sensitive stations

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Despite trains becoming soft targets for attacks from militants, railways is yet to complete the process of installation of integrated security system at more than hundred ‘sensitive’ stations.

Besides, the national transporter is also facing a shortage of sniffer dogs, crucial for detection of explosives at rail premises.  There are 202 stations identified as sensitive ones which are to be equipped with integrated security system at an estimated cost Rs 355 crores.  However, the system is yet to be operational at 102 such stations.

bomb-blastIntegrated security system comprising bomb detection and disposal system, baggage screening, door frame metal detectors, hand held metal detectors for frisking and CCTV for electronic surveillance at stations.

The process for installing integrated security system is on in many stations and zonal railways have been instructed to expedite it, said a senior RPF official. RPF is responsible for managing the system at railway stations.

Though many trains are being escorted by RPF and GRP, the ill-fated Bangalore-Guwahati train is not included in the escorted train list.

A woman was killed and 14 others injured, when two low-intensity bombs exploded in a span of five minutes on two coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati train at the busy Central Railway station today. Currently, RPF escort about 1270 trains while GRP is being given the responsibility of about 2200 trains in the country.

“There are about 11,000 trains and all are not escorted. Escort is only given to certain trains which are passing through areas prone to Naxal or militant violence,” said the official.

Railways also have a dog squad to detect explosives at stations and trains.  Though the sanctioned strength of sniffer dogs is 460, currently railways have only 359 dogs.  Steps are being taken to recruit more sniffer dogs, he said.

However, the official said besides the security system and sniffer dog, railways also depend upon the intelligence input on possible attack on certain route. But there was no input so far on Chennai blast.

MoS Railway says: Railways cannot provide foolproof security

Union Minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury today said it was not possible for railways to provide foolproof security to its vast infrastructure and asked States to give “more attention” to it, as twin blasts in a train at the Chennai central station claimed a woman’s life.

Railways tracks were spread over 64,000 kilometers in the country, Chowdhury said.

“Such a vast railway tracks pass through thousands of villages and jungles. So how can railways ensure security of each and every place? It is not possible for railways to give foolproof security to it.

Chowdhury, Minister of State for Railways said that “So the State governments should give more attention to it. They have Government Railway Police (GRP) for this.”

He was reacting on today’s twin blasts in the Bangalore-Guwahati Express at the Chennai Central Railway station, in which a woman was killed and 14 others were injured.

It’s time to revisit Safety Apparatus in Railways

 

The police are probing the case but a look back on safety track record shows scant regard for majors suggested to make this lifeline safer.

As India mourns the tragic death of a young woman in the train blast at Chennai, the Railways has failed to take heed from various expert recommendations over the critical safety issue. A woman was killed and many were injured when two low-intensity bombs exploded on two coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati train at Chennai Railway station. The police is probing the case but a look back on safety track record shows scant regard for majors suggested to make this lifeline safer.

The terror perspective apart serious concern over safety issues in Indian Railways can be clearly due to non acceptance of recommendations prescribed by various committees and dual command approach for Commission of Railway Safety (CRS).

On March 12 2012, a High Level Safety Review Committee headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar, recommended setting up of a statutory Railway Safety Authority (RSA) and a safety architecture which is powerful enough to have a safety oversight on the operational mode of Indian Railways without detaching safety with the railway operations.

The Committee also recommended measures to strengthen the present Railway Safety Commission to undertake meaningful regulatory inspections. But despite a proposal by the then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi (for setting up an independent Railway Safety Authority) no progress has been made in this regard.

Commenting on the Indian Railways’ slow pace initiation approach towards the previous safety Committees recommendations, Anil Kakodkar Committee said that, “Indian Railways suffers from ‘implementation bug’.”

However, India has a Commission of Railway Safety, which deals with matters pertaining to safety of rail travel and  train operation  and  is charged with  certain  statutory  functions  as laid  down  in the Railways Act (1989), which are of an investigatory and advisory  nature. The Commission conducts statutory inquiry into serious train accidents occurring on the Indian Railways and makes recommendations for improving safety on the Railways in India. But the commission works under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

This dual command approach of the commission affects safety standards in Indian Railways and which was also highlighted by a 2005 Parliamentary Standing Committee on transport, tourism and culture. Parliamentary Standing Committee on transport, tourism and culture suggested that that there should be standalone legislation for the Commission of Railway Safety. The committee suggested that the issue of separate legislation should be discussed seriously, defining the role, powers and jurisdiction of CRS for ensuring its autonomy and effective functioning.

Based on the suggestion the Ministry of Civil Aviation had prepared a draft, “Commission of Railway Safety Bill”, but that was not supported by the Ministry of Railways. The proposal was dropped in 2010.

However, on March 8, 2013 the Minister of state for railway Kotla Jayasurvya Prakash Reddy in a written reply to Rajya Sabha said, “Commissioners of Railway Safety are completely independent and exercise their independent and free judgment while discharging their duties under the Act. Ministry of Railways provides all the support in terms of infrastructure/logistics as and when required by the Commission.”

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