Chandigarh: Punjab Minister of Local Government Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday wrote a letter to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal stressing the urgent need for high fencing along the railway tracks, especially in densely populated areas to prevent accidents.
“In the past two years, there have been over 50,000 deaths due to rail mishaps in the Northern region as per media reports. This is extremely worrisome and we collectively need to take appropriate measures to save invaluable human lives. I strongly believe that we must come up with a stringent mechanism to prevent such mishaps. These regular rail accidents definitely indicate that we have lessons to be learnt and we need to prevent and prepare rather than repent and repair,” Sidhu said.
“There is an urgent need to have high fencing along the rail tracks especially in the urban areas that are densely populated so that nobody crosses the rail tracks and many of the accidents are avoided,” he added.
In the letter, the cricketer turned politician urged for installation of CCTV cameras along the rail tracks and upgraded equipment so that people could receive alerts in no time.
He said, “We should have CCTV cameras along the rail tracks in densely populated areas and ensure that patrolling along the tracks by RPF/GRP is enhanced to ensure that the rail tracks are always clear. Efficient use of technology such as CCTV cameras monitored by decentralised control rooms and alarms if someone comes near the tracks can be of great use. Other than this, I also suggest that the Railways must use open carriages regularly to keep a check on the rail tracks.”
“Apart from enhanced patrolling, we need to equip Railways with upgraded equipment so that they could receive alerts in no time. As in India there are still many unmanned crossings, we need to upgrade those on an urgent basis. As the human life is invaluable, I am of the opinion that this can be done through mutual symbiosis between the Union and the State Governments,” he added.
Citing an example of fencing of the Mumbai-Pune highway, Sidhu said: “We need to fence the sensitive areas around the rail tracks to ensure that no damage is caused. As this matter is of great importance, I can come to you for detailed discussion on this with a specific plan, so that maximum can be done to adopt extreme caution in future and save numerous lives that are lost in rail accidents across India every year.”
“Sir, the Railways Ministry has already installed electric poles and fencing them won’t cost much. Still if it is expensive, the Railways can prioritise the urban areas where population along the rail tracks is denser,” he added.
The Punjab cabinet minister offered to take up the matter with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for any help from the state government in this regard, adding that a consensus must be reached on the issue.
“I would also like to mention that if any help is required from our side, you can suggest on it so that I can take up the matter with Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh. We must reach a consensus on this issue and prioritise to plug the gaps. Looking forward for a positive response from you,” Sidhu said.
The letter comes after a speeding train ran through a crowd of Dussehra revelers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy in Choura Bazar near Jhoda Phatak area of Amritsar on October 19. At least 59 people died while 57 sustained injuries in the tragedy.