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CAG Report 2023 Exposes: Railway Security Expenditure Diverted

The report reveals several instances of mismanagement, wastage, and irregularities in the use of funds meant for enhancing railway security.

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The latest CAG report has uncovered shocking revelations of fund misuse by government officials. Read on to learn more about the findings and their implications for accountability and transparency in public spending.

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Introduction:

In a recent report published by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the misuse of funds allocated for railway security has come to light. The CAG, an autonomous body responsible for auditing the accounts and expenditures of the Indian government, has uncovered significant irregularities in the utilization of funds earmarked for ensuring the safety and security of the country’s vast railway network. The report reveals several instances of mismanagement, wastage, and irregularities in the use of funds meant for enhancing railway security.

Background:

Railway security is a crucial aspect of any nation’s transportation infrastructure. With millions of passengers relying on railways for their daily commute, it becomes imperative to maintain a robust security apparatus to protect both human lives and vital assets. The Indian Railways, being one of the world’s largest railway networks, is particularly vulnerable to security threats, ranging from acts of terrorism to instances of theft and sabotage.

The RRSK was established in 2017-18 with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore, to be contributed equally by the central government and the railways over a period of five years. The fund was supposed to finance projects such as track renewal, bridge works, signaling and telecommunication works, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, and research.

Also Read: RBI Announces Monetary Policy 2023

Key Findings of the CAG Report:

Diversion of Funds: The CAG report reveals that a significant portion of the funds allocated for railway security has been diverted for other purposes, compromising the safety of passengers and infrastructure. This diversion of funds has been identified as a major concern, as it undermines the primary objective of safeguarding railway operations. One of the most shocking findings of the report is that a significant amount of money from the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), a dedicated fund created for critical safety works, was spent on buying items such as foot massagers, crockery, and jackets for railway officials and staff.

Inadequate Allocation: The report points out that the allocation of funds for railway security has been insufficient in proportion to the scale and complexity of the security challenges faced by the Indian Railways. This underfunding has hindered the implementation of critical security measures, leaving the system susceptible to potential security breaches.

The CAG report found that due to poor financial management and planning, the railways failed to meet their share of contribution for four consecutive years, resulting in a shortfall of Rs 28,725 crore. Moreover, out of the Rs 71,275 crore that was available in the RRSK till March 2021, only Rs 40,480 crore (57 per cent) was utilised for safety works.

Weak Surveillance Systems: The CAG report highlights the inadequacy of surveillance systems across railway stations, platforms, and trains. Insufficient CCTV coverage and outdated equipment hamper effective monitoring and response to security incidents. The lack of modern surveillance technology leaves passengers and railway assets vulnerable to criminal activities.

The report also revealed that some of the expenditure booked under RRSK was not related to safety works at all. For example, Rs 2.08 crore was spent on purchasing foot massagers for loco pilots and assistant loco pilots; Rs 1.53 crore was spent on buying crockery sets for pantry cars; Rs 1.10 crore was spent on procuring jackets for trackmen; and Rs 0.84 crore was spent on buying curtains and carpets for officers’ rest houses.

The CAG report stated that these items were not essential for ensuring safety of railway operations and passengers, and were not in conformity with the objectives and guidelines of RRSK. The report also observed that there was no proper monitoring and evaluation mechanism to assess the outcomes and impact of RRSK projects.

Inadequate Training: The report points out the lack of comprehensive training programs for railway security personnel. Insufficient training hampers their ability to handle security threats efficiently and effectively. The CAG report emphasizes the need for continuous training and skill development to ensure a competent and proactive security force.

Delayed Modernization Initiatives: The CAG report criticizes the delay in implementing modernization initiatives in railway security. Upgrading technologies, such as biometric identification systems, access control mechanisms, and advanced scanning devices, is crucial to enhancing security levels. However, the slow pace of modernization further exposes vulnerabilities within the system.

Implications and Way Forward:

The findings of the CAG report raise serious concerns about the safety and security of India’s railway network. The misutilization of funds, inadequate allocation, weak surveillance systems, and delayed modernization initiatives collectively compromise the integrity of the railway security apparatus.

To address these issues, several measures need to be taken:

Enhanced Accountability: The responsible authorities should be held accountable for the misuse of funds allocated for railway security. Transparent auditing processes and strict adherence to financial protocols must be enforced to prevent diversion and misappropriation.

Increased Funding: The government must allocate adequate funds to railway security to ensure that it aligns with the ever-evolving security threats faced by the Indian Railways. A comprehensive assessment of security requirements should be conducted to determine the appropriate funding levels.

Improved Surveillance Infrastructure: Investment in modern surveillance systems, including CCTV cameras, biometric identification, and advanced scanning devices, should be prioritized. These measures will enable prompt detection, response, and deterrence of security incidents.

Comprehensive Training Programs: Railway security personnel should undergo regular and rigorous training programs to enhance their skills and capabilities. Training modules should cover threat analysis, emergency response, crowd management, and technology usage.

Timely Implementation of Modernization Initiatives: The government should expedite the implementation of modernization initiatives within the railway security system. This includes adopting advanced technologies, upgrading infrastructure, and establishing robust protocols to counter emerging threats.

Conclusion:

The CAG report exposing the misuse of funds allocated for railway security is a wake-up call for the authorities to take immediate action. By addressing the concerns raised in the report, prioritizing accountability, and making necessary investments, the safety and security of India’s railway network can be strengthened. It is imperative to safeguard the millions of passengers who rely on the railways for their daily commute and to protect the critical infrastructure that fuels the nation’s progress.

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