The Indian Railways seems to be definitely passing through the bad luck phase as train derailments and head on collisions have become sort of an order of the day. During the recent past under the tenure of the previous Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, the spate of train accidents have led to his shifting to another ministry despite his decency to offer resignation as once the former prime minister Lal Bahadur shastri did when he was the Railway minister during prime minister Nehru’s era. While the previous minister of Railways and the chairman railways board had to go in view of the accidents and subsequent deaths of good number of commuters the new minister Piyush Goyal and a turnaround bureaucrat with several degrees in mechanical engineering and a limca book record holder Ashwani Lohani has now taken over as chairman Railway Board pledging to set things rights in the near future.
Lots of hope and expect from both these new incumbants and infact they had been trying their best to resurrect the bad railways. But unfortunately the Elphinestone FOB tragedy that killed 22 precious lives and injured several others have once again put the railways on the bad report card of the country. It really sounds ridiculous and rather shameful that on the one hand we boast so much of reaching the twenty first century and bringing extreme high tech Bullet train technology in the country at the whopping cost of 1.10 lakh crores though through the cheapest loan from Japan which is actually, in any case, not the need of the hour, repeated train accidents and tragedies such as that happened in Mumbai due to the century old squeezed FOB built by the Britishers and never ever thought of repairing or building a new one, continue to happen killing hundreds of commuters for no fault of theirs.
Today, the Indian Railway network is the largest in Asia ferrying crores of passengers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari earning handsomely but if we go into the depth of the inadequacies and problems we’ll be shocked to find the mess everywhere despite the fact that the railway employees draw 3 months Deepawali bonus every year and heavy pay packets as salaries and remunerations. Today, the majority of the railway tracts and lines are in extremely bad shape some even of the British era having not been repaired or changed resulting in derailments and subsequent death and collosal loss to the government’s exchequer. The majority of the railway stations lack basic facilities like fresh and quality drinking water. The kitchens are in pathetic state serving unhealthy food stuff but charging fully.
There is complete lack of basic minimum first aid and other forms of medical facilities in the event of medical emergency. The crime and incidents of thefts and deciet by imposters is a regular feature in metropolitan cities’ railway stations and inside train compartments in particular. The tendering and frieght mafia is quite active and corruption is at its peak. The instances of involvement of the former Railway ministers viz Pawan Kumar Bansal and Lalu Prasad Yadav and their near and dear ones are enough to prove home the point that all is not well in the Indian Railways and corruption do play a pivotal role in this largest organisation of Asia.
The recent spate of train disasters and the one that happened in Mumbai claiming 22 innocent lives for no fault of theirs is a stark reminder for the Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal and his new team of dedicated officers including the most outstanding RB chairman Ashwani Lohani to accept the challenge of turning the railways in mess into the most modern, people friendly and hi tech Indian Railways where accidents and tragedies become the things of the past.
Here is the FB post of Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohni for the readers kind perusal:
Hon’ble minister for railways conducted a detailed mtg at mumbai today with the entire railway brass in attendance. Many crucial decisions related to mumbai suburban were taken on the spot and many decisions related to empowerment and process reforms were also taken. One of the finest confidence building measure that I have ever seen. Gives me tremendous confidence and hope that the railways would turn the tide and that too soon. With staff and officers enthused and tremendous stress on probity in public life why would it not?
What do you say friends?