Railway’s security mechanism is inadequate and surveillance at stations ineffective, posing serious threat to passengers’ safety, a Parliamentary committee has found.
“The Railways have to make earnest efforts at a fast pace to meet the growing security challenges,” the Public Accounts Committee has said in its latest report.
Inspection of the security system involving 138 stations across the country found that CCTVs were not available in 87 of them, while the device in 10 out of the 24 major stations such as Chennai Central, Kalyan, Secunderabad, Guwahati and Patna Junction was found non-functional.
For the worse, most of the stations faced a shortage of security gadgets like scanning machines, metal detectors, bomb detection and disposal squads, which were not functional in some others.
Railways operate about 800 trains covering about 8,000 stations and handle approximately 1.4 crore passengers per day across the country. The committee noted that small stations were the worst off as none of them were equipped with any surveillance mechanism.
Security threats are further compounded by the existence of unmanned multi-entry and exit points.
Expressing concern over the glaring lapses, the committee has observed that it would give an impression that while moderate level of precaution is being provided at bigger stations, smaller stations were left to providence.
Railway staff, including the RPF, manning the entry points, have been faced with the problem of overcrowding, making the surveillance mechanism inadequate to prevent unauthorised entry into station premises, the committee noted.
For strengthening of security mechanism to avert terror attacks, Railways have decided to install Integrated Security System at 195 stations at an estimated cost of Rs. 344.31 crore.
Besides, the RPF has also been strengthened in the recent past with commando personnel, specialised training, better information network and augmenting dog squad.
However, the committee found that the measures were not commensurate with the quantum of threat perception in the vast network.
The Integrated Security System to be installed in major stations comprises IP-based CCTV surveillance, access control, personal and baggage screening, bomb detection and disposal system.
The committee, however, is of the opinion that the System neither addresses much of the risks associated with the goods trains nor covers the safety and security issues of tracks and bridges, which can come under attack.
Recommending a comprehensive security plan, the committee has suggested for a proper evaluation by analysing different threat perceptions relating to train, stations, tracks and bridges.
It has also strongly recommended for the modernisation of the RPF. “RPF should be reformed, modernised and expanded to provide the required level of manpower and security,” the committee added.