The Indian Railways has invested more than Rs 1 lakh crore in safety measures between the fiscal years 2017-2018 and 2021-2022, with a significant focus on track renewal. This information comes in response to claims made by Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, who criticized the government over a recent train accident in Balasore, Odisha. The government is set to address a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, which Kharge cited to question the allocation of funds for track renewal. However, official data reveals a steady growth in expenditure on safety-related works, countering the claims of reduced funding.
Expenditure on Track Renewal
According to an official document, the data on track renewal expenditure demonstrates a consistent upward trend. Between 2017-2018 and 2021-2022, the railways’ spending on track renewal increased from Rs 8,884 crore to Rs 16,558 crore. In total, an impressive sum of Rs 58,045 crore was allocated to track renewal during this period. These figures contradict Kharge’s assertion that funding for the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) had been significantly reduced, compromising track renewal work.
The railways’ investment in safety-related works has also witnessed substantial growth. This category encompasses track renewal, bridges, level crossings, railway over and under bridges, and signaling works. Between 2014-2015 and 2023-2024 (Budget Estimate), expenditure on safety-related works increased from Rs 70,274 crore to Rs 1,78,012 crore. This substantial rise in investment demonstrates the government’s commitment to enhancing the safety and security of rail passengers.
Response to the CAG Report
The government has noted that the CAG report on “Derailment in Indian Railways” only covers a three-year period: 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20. Therefore, it provides a limited perspective on the actual expenditure on track renewal and safety-related works. A comprehensive response addressing all the issues raised in the report is being prepared. The government asserts that the actual figures of expenditure on track renewal have increased significantly over the years, indicating a commitment to improving railway safety.