New Delhi: Making a sharp attack on railways for its "lackadaisical approach" on passenger safety issue, a parliamentary committee has recommended taking expeditious measures to eliminate unmanned level crossings, a major cause of rail accidents.
The Standing Committee on Railways in its latest report on "Major railway accidents during the last five years" has found that more than fifty per cent of all accidents across railways occur at level crossings, both manned and unmanned.
According to the report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, there are 31,254 level crossings across the country, out of which 12,582 level crossings remain unmanned even today which comes to about 40 per cent which was in spite of the fact that the railways have committed in the Visions 2020 document to eliminate all unmanned level crossings.
However, the committee has observed tardy progress in the construction of road overbridge (ROB) and road underbridge (RUB) which are the alternatives to level crossings.
The committee found that funds meant for road safety- related safety works have consequently been underutilised during the last five years - at times to the tune of less than 40 per cent utilisation.
"Utilisation has fallen short of allocation by upto 40 per cent in all years from 2008-09 to 2012-13, which is reflective of the lackadaisical approach of the railways to a very serious safety issue," it stated in the report.
Expressing concern over lack of utilisation of allocated funds for during the last two financial years - 2011-12 and 2012-13, the report recommended railways fully utilise the funds meant for safety so that accidents are avoided.
The committee is critical of the "apathetic" attitude of the railways and recommended the national transporter accept the social responsibility towards the travelling public as also the road users and take proactive measures to put an end to accidents at level crossings.