Exactly three years ago,on July 11,serial bomb blasts in Mumbais suburban trains that killed 187 persons had exposed Indian Railways vulnerabilities. Seven months back,the 26/11 Mumbai terror that began at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station displayed how little had changed. Finally,after months of discussions and deliberations,the Railway Ministry,for the first time ever,has acknowledged security as its responsibility in allocating money to secure 190-odd railway stations across the country.
What is significant here is that Railways,which for long shirked from investing in security citing law and order as a state subject,has,for the first time,included allocations for its Integrated Security System plan in this years Pink Book that lists the ministrys Works,Machinery and Rolling Stock Programme.
Despite taking so long to materialise,the move still appears half-hearted given the fact that even while pegging the total cost of providing Integrated Security Systems (ISS) at 190 sensitive railway stations across the country at Rs 344.30 crore,the ministry has chosen to grant only a small fraction of this amount for the current fiscal.
So even as Rail Bhavan has estimated the latest anticipated cost of providing ISS at 55 suburban railway stations in Delhi,Mumbai and Kolkata at Rs 81.69 crore,it has proposed an outlay of only Rs 8 crore for these stations in the current fiscal.
While the cost of securing 32 Mumbai suburban railway stations under Western Railways and six Mumbai suburban railway stations under Centre Railways has been put in black and white at Rs 18.23 crore and Rs 21.72 crore,respectively,all that is likely to be sanctioned this year is a sum of Rs 2 crore each for both the zonal railways. Similarly,while pegging the cost of providing ISS at 10 stations in Delhi area and seven station in Kolkata area at Rs 22.32 crore and Rs 19.42 crore respectively,the ministry has decided to sanction only Rs 2 crore each for these suburban stations in both Northern and Eastern Railways.
The ISS plan essentially envisages setting up of equipment like high-end Internet Protocol based CCTVs surveillance systems,access control systems,personal and baggage screening systems and explosive detection and disposal systems at major railway stations across the country.
But even while granting some money for the procurement of these equipment,the Railway Ministry is still mum on a proposal to induct around 22,000 personnel into its short-staffed Railway Protection Force (RPF).
We are happy that money has been granted to buy high-end security equipment. But who will man those equipments? a top RPF official asked. Each time an attack happens,there is a flurry of activity to give RPF what it requires. But the ministry has not sanctioned even one man out of the 22,000 we want. Are we waiting for another attack? asked the official,requesting anonymity.