Unable to get further allocations from the Finance Ministry under the Nirbhaya Fund, Indian Railways is exploring the loan route to raise Rs 2,500 crore to install CCTVs at all stations and coaches to ensure state-of-the-art surveillance systems in the entire rail network across the country.
The loan is to be raised through Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC), the finance arm of the national transporter. It raises financial resources for expansion and running from the capital markets and other avenues.
There is a total requirement of Rs 3,000 crore for the CCTV project, out of which Rs 500 crore has already been allocated by the Finance Ministry under the Nirbhaya Fund.
"While 436 stations are being equipped with CCTVs, 547 more stations would be covered under the Nirbhaya Fund this year," a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.
Giving top priority to safety and security at rail premises, the Budget for 2018-19 had approved CCTV systems in 58,276 coaches and 5,121 stations in the Indian rail network.
However, the Railways could not get the Finance Ministry's nod for further allocation under Nirbhaya Fund and was told to raise resources on its own.
So it has been decided to raise Rs 2,500 crore through IRFC, with Railtel repaying the loan. Railtel, the telecom wing of the Railways, is responsible for executing the CCTV projects.
Raising loan through IRFC will be preferable for the Railways as against taking market loan.
According to a revised plan, 42,000 coaches and about 5,000 stations would be equipped with CCTV system to strengthen safety and security of passengers.
"We will begin with AC coaches and subsequently other coaches would also be covered," said the official. "While each coach will have eight CCTV cameras covering the entry gates, aisle and vestibules, all crucial points at stations will have the systems."
Railways has identified 10,349 coaches of suburban trains, 4,038 coaches of premier trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi, and about 27,000 coaches of superfast and express trains to be covered under the CCTV surveillance system.
All mail, express and premier trains, as well as local passenger services, will be equipped with the modern surveillance systems in the next two years as per the plan.
(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance senior journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com)