Rattled by a series of ghastly attacks on passenger trains by Maoist groups, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to ask the Centre to deploy Central Paramilitary Forces to guard rail tracks.
“The idea of deploying the central security forces along the most vulnerable 150-kilometer sections in the Kharakpur-Rourkela and Kharakpur-Adra routes of West Bengal’s Midnapur and Purulia districts are under active consideration,” a senior ministry official said.
Following recent incidents where Maoist groups targeted railway property, Banerjee has taken urgent preventive measures including getting the finance ministry’s sanction for the creation of an additional 5,134 posts in the Railway Protection Force (RPF). She has also obtained the finance ministry approval for raising 12 additional RPF companies. Four of these are women companies, which have already been created, sources said.
The process of raising three additional battalions of the Railway Protection Special Force (RPFS) at Manwal, Cooch Behar and Asansol has also been put in motion, while the process of acquiring land for the setting up of a RPF commando training centre at Canning in West Bengal has been activated, a ministry official said.
The Railways Minister has so far sanctioned Rs. 353 crore for setting up integrated security systems at 202 railway stations in the areas considered vulnerable, while Rs.64 crore has been approved for technology upgrade.
Also on the anvil are plans for the networking of all RPF control rooms, while an All India RPF security helpline project has been approved at a sum of Rs.5 crore.
These decisions are an outcome of a series of meetings held that top railways held over the past weeks, including the June 11 meeting between the West Bengal and Railways officials in Kolkata.
Fencing of rail tracks in Maoist-hit regions and developing technology for better surveillance are among other measures being considered.