A key parliamentary committee has selected 31 additional subjects, including CAG’s reports of fire accidents in passenger coaches of Indian Railways and lack of specialised parachutes with the army, for examination this year.
The Public Accounts Committee has decided to include these additional subjects for examination after the principal government auditor tabled its reports in Parliament in December last during the Winter session.
Short circuit, poor maintenance and lack of awareness are major reasons of fire in trains, the Comptroller and Auditor General has said in its report on Railways.
One chapter in the report deals with ‘Fire Accidents in Passenger Coaches in Indian Railways’.
The PAC, headed by Congress’ K V Thomas, has decided to examine the entire chapter, a Lok Sabha bulletin issued last week said.
The report observed that corporate safety plan envisaged bringing down the number of accidents by 80 per cent from 2001-02 to 2013 but the number of accidents went up by 160 per cent during the period.
The loss of human lives in fire accidents in passenger coaches steeply increased from 3 in 2001-02 to 9 in 2011-12, 32 in 2012-13 and 35 in 2013-14.
Paragraph 2.2 on ‘Non-availability of Specialised Parachutes’ in the CAG’s report on Defence Ministry is another subject the Parliamentary panel has decided to include for examination.
The CAG had said the Indian army was without specialised parachutes for over a decade.
It had also raised questions on the functioning of army aviation corps, the cantonment boards, and shortfall in the availability of BMP infantry combat vehicles in the Indian army.
“Combat free fall (CFF) parachutes are required during highly specialised operations and are vital for the success the missions carried out by Parachute (special forces) battalions of Indian Army. However, the Army was without these specialised parachutes for over a decade,” the report said.
The parachutes developed by DRDO in 2006 could not be successfully produced by the Ordnance Factory Board, even after incurring an expenditure of Rs 10.75 crore, it said.
The audit report was also critical of the army aviation corps, saying it was plagued with 32 per cent deficiency against its authorised fleet strength.
The functioning of the army aviation corps is another subject selected by the PAC.
PAC examines CAG reports on various subjects and seeks explanation from the government on the action taken