Tuesday, December 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Train mishaps: safety measures of 60s

Apropos of the editorial “Death at 70 kmph” (December 4), wringing of hands is the habitual reaction of the railway authorities to accidents. Also, the ordering of a statutory enquiry and apportioning the blame in due course. We will also get to hear that no stone will be left unturned to bring those responsible for the tragedy to book. All this has been done this time too when on the morning of December 2, near Ambala, a passenger train rammed into the derailed wagons of a goods train claiming more than 40 lives and leaving more than 130 injured — tracing the cause to “track fracture”. In other words, the track had developed fault for want of careful maintenance and supervision. “Evidently, the accusing finger should be pointed at those who are charged with the responsibility of keeping the lines safe.

As most of us have seen, the railway track is patrolled every day by “keymen” and often by Permanent Way Inspectors (PWIs) and occasionally by divisional engineers. If any defect is noticed, the stations on either side are immediately notified and no train can pass without a safety certificate. From this it should appear that adequate safety measures do exist to permit the safe movement of trains.

I can recall the safety measures that were introduced in the sixties and maintained till the early seventies bringing about a marked decline in the accident rate. These included education, effective supervision, introduction of technical aids and prompt disciplinary action as a deterrent against the negligence of duty coupled with the award of shields for consistently good and long records of safety.

It is now obvious that the drive and pressure that gave satisfactory results in the past have not been maintained. What was achieved at one time can be achieved again without doubt, and even bettered, if there is a will to do so. If Ms Mamata Banerjee is not too busy juggling with her dual responsibilities of the Minister for Railways and the Trinamool Congress leader, perhaps she could find more time to improve and upgrade railway safety systems which is the need of the hour.

You have rightly pointed out that the world’s longest railway network is also the world’s biggest killer. One-third of the country’s railway track is overaged and unfit for bearing the present traffic. It needs several thousand crores of rupees to renew tracks but the successive budgets have failed to meet the requirements, with the result that more rails become unserviceable than those strengthened during the same period. Therefore, top priority should be given to safer tracks.

k. m. vashisht


Budget suggestions

For the Union Budget 2001-2002, the following suggestions with regard to direct tax reforms are offered:

1. Tax laws must be made stable by announcing a five-year fiscal policy.

2. Corporate tax should be reduced to 30 per cent and slab rates of income tax with a lower rate up to Rs 1 lakh income for smaller companies should be prescribed.

3. The rate of income tax for partnership firms should be brought down to 30 per cent.

4. The initial slab rate of 10 per cent for personal income tax should apply on an income between Rs 60,000 and Rs 1,50,000, and 20 per cent on an income between Rs 1,50,000 and Rs 5,00,000. The maximum marginal rate of income tax should apply only on an income in excess of Rs 5,00,000.

5. Education allowance and hostel allowance per child of employees should be increased to Rs 1,000 per month and Rs 1,500 per month respectively.

6. Standard deduction for employees should be increased to Rs 50,000. The distinction between the employees of the private sector and the public sector should be abolished regarding the valuation of the perquisite for residential accommodation.

7. The standard exemption for a minor under Section 10 (32) of the I.T. Act should be increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 10,000.

8. Newly constructed houses should be allowed exemption for five years for low income group housing.

9. The threshold for tax audit under Section 44B of the I.T. Act for business concerns should be raised from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 120 lakh and for professional concerns from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.

10. The limit for the deduction of bank interest, etc, under Section 80L should be raised to Rs 25,000.

11. The limit for the operation of the Tax Clearance Certificate under Section 230A should be raised to Rs 15 lakh.

12. The interest on refund at 1.5 per cent per month should be allowed under Section 244A with the provision for charging interest from tax payers.

r. n. lakhotia
New Delhi

Of religious pollution

The world is fighting relentlessly against environmental pollution, but there is no serious campaign against religious pollution, increasing day by day and causing deaths, miseries, sorrows and, above all, division at the social level.

What is the objective of a religion? Has anyone thought of it deeply? Has it ever been debated?

Religion in its pure form is not being practised in any society; rather it is being utilised for personal interests.

Religion is a divine force to attain most peaceful co-existence through the self-attainment of purity with love to everyone so as to create a paradise all the way. But what we have is hatred all along.

Religious pollution has led to the loss of a great number of human lives the world over. Innocent men, women and children have been done to death in the name of religion. We cannot afford any more such deaths. No one should feel proud of killing any human being in the name of religion.

mohd anees khan
New Delhi

Rathore goes, at last

At last Mr SPS Rathore has been sent on leave. The way Mr Om Prakash Chautala has tried to shield the DGP who was involved in a most immoral act has sent wrong signals throughout the country.

In fact, any Chief Minister should have recommended his case to the President of India to dismiss him from service.

The country should be grateful to Madhu Prakash and her husband Anand Prakash who stood up to face the might of a government.



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