BENGALURU: Crime detection and passenger safety across trains and railway stations in Karnataka have taken a massive hit, owing to the acute shortage of Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel.
While repeated requests for augmenting the strength over the years has not borne any fruit, the number of trains and passengers across South Western Railway have shot up manifold.
The GRP today runs with the same staff strength as it did in 1979. “We have sent a proposal to recruit 919 staff for the force, with 725 only for the South Western Railway Zone,” a senior GRP official said.
However, this is pending for six years now. For SWR, the staff sought include one Superintendent, one Deputy Superintendent, 24 Sub-Inspectors, 63 Assistant Sub-Inspectors, 131 Head Constables, 466 Constables and 39 Armed Constables.
The force was created in 1861 to cater to the Railways. “The problem lies in a peculiar arrangement, wherein the costs to operate the force need to be shared by both the Railways and the specific state government,” a senior official said, adding that this is the reason why new recruitment has not been approved by the Railway Board.
Karnataka has constantly maintained that it was ready to bear half the cost of the additional recruitment, but the Railway Board is unwilling to shoulder its burden, the official said.
“The state has even gone to the extent of requesting the Board to at least sanction half the strength, so that it could manage the full salaries for this 50 per cent, but even that has not come through,” he added.
SP Bengaluru DR Siri Gowri said the present staff strength in Karnataka is 771, including one SP, three DySPs, and 427 constables.
Additional Director General of Police, Railways, Bhaskar Rao told TNIE, “The huge increase in passenger traffic is also seeing a rise in smuggling of contraband, gold, liquor and counterfeit currency through trains. We need sufficient strength to completely end all such crimes.”