Mr. Mukul Roy who like his mentor Ms Mamata Banerjee, the previous Railway Minister, remote controls his Ministry by most of the time staying put in Calcutta only, instead of Delhi. The honorable minister initially made a statement that this could be sabotage, least bothered that what repercussion could this irresponsible statement have. Maybe he has not heard of Godhra episode and the riots that ensued. Apparently all that he wanted was to absolve himself of any responsibility.
It is a separate issue that under his able leadership in first seven months of this year, four major train collisions have taken place, killing 40 passengers and maiming many more, some for life. In addition, one major derailment has resulted in loss of life of seven passengers. The death count on railway tracks and inside railway compartments have risen from 12972 in 2010 to 14670 in 2011. In any other country with Railways producing this death toll would have resulted in change of government but in India we live in Chalta Hai Raj with no questions asked.
The Railways in this country are run on the concept of populism. Any minister who gets appointed as Railway Minister, all he thinks is adding more trains, especially to his home state on an already overloaded system. Passenger safety or for that matter quality of the railway coaches and their maintenance is never his priority. The lackadaisical attitude of employees and a work culture where accountability is never an issue afflicts the Railways from top to bottom. Add to this the recruitment and promotion based on caste and creed and not on merit due to the quota system and reservations and the picture is complete.
Rajdhani Express and may be few other prestigious trains where Netajis of India do travel when they are not traveling by air are the only ones looked after. All other trains for the Aaam Admi are run only at the mercy and under direct care of God Almighty.
A high level Railway Safety Review Committee this year has recommended that Railways must spend 100000 crore in next five years to bring up the safe travel in Railways. Better railway tracks, collision control devices, better signal system, better communication system and what have you have all been listed in this Committees report but where this money is to come from? Recently The Railway Minister before Mr. Mukul Roy, Mr. Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress tried to raise some resources by raising fares but thanks to Mamata Bnarjee of the ‘Poribartan’ fame Mr. Trivedi was shunted out in no time and replaced by the present incumbent Mr. Roy. So far Mr. Roy has shown no inclination towards any ‘Poribartan’ in the functioning of Railways.
Another big issue is the dacoity, loot and molestations taking place in the trains. Every day newspaper headlines shriek of some train being looted and suffering of passengers. Recently two girls were thrown out from running train for resisting molestation in broad daylight. Each State is to provide protection to the train till the time the train is in their jurisdiction. For this each state has GRP. The States post their worst policemen in this arm of their police besides there is always jurisdiction battles going on between various state police forces. Railways have raised their own Railway Protection Force (RPF). Rightfully it is this RPF who should be made fully accountable to all types of crimes concerning running trains and railways. This will make one agency fully accountable as against many agencies but the States are not ready for this. They feel that this is infringement of their rights. Meanwhile, the Aam Admi continues to suffer.
It is time now people of on India call enough is enough and use their democratic rights to force the government to bring in much needed reforms in Railways. We can't be forced to travel in a killer agency with no accountability the populism must give way to pragmatism.