Saturday, Jul 19, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
At his first press conference after the Samata Party crisis blew over, the Minister said that apart from formulating and implementing a 10-year comprehensive Corporate Railway Safety Plan covering 2003-2013, the Railways would do its bit to deal with the problem of sabotage and damage to the railway property by militants and other miscreant resulting in accidents.
Mr. Kumar said the Railways would seek the active cooperation of the State Governments in protecting its property and tracks from the dangers posed by militant groups and others who might target them. Though protecting government property was the responsibility of the States under whose jurisdiction it were situated, the Railways would also mobilise its resources to prevent damage to its property leading to accidents as was recommended by one of the Railway Safety Review Committees.
To gain support and cooperation of the States, the Minister would write to the Chief Ministers. Also, the Chairman of the Railway Board would similarly write to the Chief Secretaries of all the States, Mr. Kumar said.
Dealing with human failure which caused nearly two-thirds of the train accidents, he said that while providing necessary technological back-up to bring down dependence on human beings for its operations to the extent possible, new blood physically fit to discharge the arduous responsibilities of driving the trains and keeping a vigil on tracks would be inducted.
For the purpose, a VRS scheme would be introduced. The modalities for the scheme would be worked out in a month.
The VRS package would be attractive and facilitate the grant of a job to members of the family of the driver or gangman seeking voluntary retirement.
The VRS offer would be made to 50,000 drivers and gangmen falling in the age group of 50 to 57 as they because of age and health were not able to concentrate on their work and function efficiently, he said reiterating the decision taken earlier in this regard in consultation with the various railway staff unions which took part in a workshop on railway safety. Other facilities besides training would also be provided to the field staff to enable them to function efficiently.
Train to Pakistan
Answering a question on the resumption of Samjhota Express between India and Pakistan, he said a decision in this regard would have to be made by the Government. The Railways would run the train as and when asked to do so.
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