The Shiv Sena, a key member of the ruling NDA government at the Centre and long-time BJP ally, today said that there was more focus on showing off than providing basic facilities and security to train passengers.
In an editorial in party mouthpiece `Saamana', Sena said that the railways, which has seen a slew of mishaps in the last few weeks, was playing with the lives of people.
"There is more focus on showing off than providing basic facilities and security to passengers. Travelling by rail amounts to putting one's life at risk. Every year, 20,000-25,000 lives are lost due to rail-related incidents. Questions like old infrastructure, old foot overbridges, old signalling system have been pending (resolution) for years," it said.
The party's comments come two days after 26 people on the Mumbai-bound Tejas Express from Goa fell due to suspected food poisoning after eating breakfast on the premium train.
Passengers have been regularly complaining about unhygienic food served on trains. The situation now is such that they don't even bother to complain, the Marathi daily said.
"Some passengers of Tejas Express had to undergo a `poisonous exam' (a reference to food poisoning on-board the train). As always, the official concerned was suspended and an inquiry was ordered. But how was low quality food served when the train boasts of serving food at par with airlines?" it asked.
Last year, the CAG had raised questions about the standard of food being served in trains. A lizard was recently found in food served in Kolkata-Delhi Purva Express. Also, some passengers fell ill after eating food in Rajdhani Express, the Sena publication said.
"Peoples' lives are being played with. The previous railways minister had given an assurance about improving the catering service and providing good quality food but the Tejas incident has proved that all the assurances were false," it said.
If the railways boasts of providing food to 11 lakh passengers daily, it should also take the responsibility of ensuring that food doesn't cause poisoning, the Sena said.
With PTI Inputs