Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RAILWAY Seek one time financial assistance
Indian Railways will soon approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a “one time financial assistance” to strengthen its safety-related infrastructure. The Railway Board is giving final touches to a detailed project report on works to be carried out to strengthen the infrastructure and the cost likely to be incurred.

“Railway Minister Mukul Roy will soon meet the Prime Minister with this DPR. He has already briefed the PM on the poor financial condition of the department and its inability to fund such a massive work through internal resources,” a senior Railway official told The Pioneer.
After the May 22 train accident in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh killing 25 passengers, Roy had directed Chairman Railway Board, Vinay Mittal, to prepare an estimate of the work done to improve safety related work and the expenditure likely to be incurred.
On June 13, Roy had sought from the Prime Minister ‘one time financial assistance’. The Railway Minister told the PM that there is a precedence of the Centre helping the Railways with a one-time financial assistance during the Nitish Kumar rule.
A non-lapsable Special Railway Safety Fund (SRSF) of `17,000 crore was created in October 2001 to clear the arrears of replacement and renewal of over aged safety related assets like tracks, bridges, signal and telecom gears and rolling stock and to cater to certain safety enhancement works. The fund exhausted in 2008.
Roy also told the PM that there was a requirement of installation of Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) which requires massive investment. Railways have also decided to phase out all unmanned level-crossings which is a major cause of accidents across the country.
There are about 14,000 unmanned crossings across the country. The PM reportedly asked Roy to give a detailed estimate of financial requirement and the works to be done. A high-level safety review committee under Dr Anil Kakodkar identified that railways would require over `one lakh crore in the next five years to upgrade its safety infrastructure.


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