Reiterating its recommendation in 2005 for a stand-alone legislation for Commission of Railway Safety (CRS), the Parliamentary Standing Committee on transport, tourism and culture said the Railway and Civil Aviation Ministries had divergent views on crucial issues relating to the panel.

The committee, headed by Rajya Sabha MP and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, said that involvement of the two Ministries led to “avoidable confusion” and also made it difficult to divide the responsibilities due to duality of control and command in the functioning of CRS. “It also leaves scope for conflict of interest for the Ministry of Railways,” the report said.

The committee said there were “instances of unilateral action” when the Railway Board informed the CRS about the standards of railway safety with no consultations. “The Committee is constrained to conclude that such an arrangement is suitable to the Ministry of Railways which is why it does not want to disturb the existing arrangement,” the report added.

Yechury said on setting up anti-collision devices, the Railway Ministry had been maintaining that trial runs were going on. The report said such devices, introduced in select rail routes on trial basis, could not be expanded to other routes due to deficiencies noticed during the trial period. The panel hoped that further trials would be conducted after removal of deficiencies and the device would be installed on the rail routes in the coming years.

Inland water transport

In another report on national waterways, the committee urged the Government to take necessary follow-up action on the Inland Water Transport Policy Document of 2001 for optimum utilisation of the country’s potential in the water transport sector.

Yechury said developed countries, particularly in Europe, were depending on waterways for cargo transport system.

The report added that land acquisition for roads had been a major problem. “There is shortage of free land for road construction. Switching to water mode, therefore, would become the most viable option to reduce the dependency on roads, particularly for bulk cargo transport. It has lot of tourist potential especially for pilgrimage which is mainly located on river sides,” the report added.

(This article was published on February 7, 2013)
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