Railways seeks 50% hike in safety fund1 min read . Updated: 24 Jan 2021, 10:43 PM IST
- It urged the finance ministry to approve ₹30,000 crore every year for five years
- Over ₹54,000 crore has been spent between 2017-18 and 2019-20 on railways
The ministry of railways has sought a 50% increase in allocation for its safety fund—the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh.
It urged the finance ministry to approve ₹30,000 crore every year for five years, two government officials said, requesting anonymity.
In 2017-18, the then finance minister Arun Jaitley launched the initiative with a corpus of over ₹1 trillion for a five-year period, starting FY18, to ensure passenger safety. Jaitley had said the government will provide seed capital, but the Railways would have to arrange the balance resources from its revenues, among other sources.
“Discussions are on for an extension of the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh for another five years, starting 2022-23. This time, the Indian Railways hopes to spend more on passenger safety. So far, nearly ₹20,000 crore was being given every year, which could be increased to ₹30,000 crore annually," one of the two officials said. So far, every year, around three-fourths of the amount is funded by the Indian Railways, and the remaining cost is met with budgetary support, he added. Over ₹54,000 crore has been spent between 2017-18 and 2019-20, according to government data.
The announcement could be made in the Union Budget on 1 February. The safety fund will be used to prevent human error in train accidents and upgrade infrastructure. It is being utilized to prevent accidents and boost safety, including timely replacement of over-aged assets, adoption of technologies for upgradation and maintenance of tracks, rolling stock, signalling and telecommunication systems, safety drives, and will provide greater emphasis on training of officials to carry out inspections at regular intervals, and closure of unmanned level crossings, among others.
The expenses from the fund are regularly reviewed by the federal policy think tank NITI Aayog, as well as the cabinet committee on economic affairs. “Considering the significant addition to the corpus, focus on bringing in state-of-the-art technology in the operations will be the need of the hour," said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, director and practice lead, transport and logistics, Crisil Infrastructure Advisory.