The Railways announced on Tuesday a slew of initiatives against smoking and carrying inflammable items, which were apparently the cause behind some of the recent fires on board trains.
The national transporter has instructed zonal railways to initiate an intensive awareness drive of seven days to educate all the stakeholders, including railway users and employees, about precautions to be taken against fire incidents.
Carrying inflammable objects in trains is a punishable offence under Section 164 of the Railways Act and the offender may get an imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both, and a fine of Rs 500 is applicable under Section 165.
The directives come after a slew of fire-related incidents were reported not only from on board trains, but also at rail premises. These include the blaze in the Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi Express, where an initial probe found a burning cigarette thrown into a toilet dustbin to be the cause of fire.
Another case of a short-circuit reported in the Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani, smoke emanating from the Duronto train from Allahabad Junction to Lokmanyatilak terminus station in Mumbai and other minor fires reported from the premises of coach factories, in garbage dumps and in bushes on railway property.
The deadliest incident was in the Eastern Railway headquarters in Kolkata earlier this month, in which nine people lost their lives.
In a directive, the Railway Board said these include enforcing the ''no-smoking'' rule, preventing carriage of inflammable material through rail, creating awareness through distribution of leaflets, pamphlets, pasting of stickers; conducting street plays, announcement through public address system at stations, and advertisement in print, electronic and social media.
"In the view of incidents of fire resulting in loss of property and danger to life in various zonal railways, out of which few incidents appeared to have been caused by smoking onboard or transportation of inflammable material by the train.
"To curb such incidents, Indian Railways launched a massive drive against smoking and carriage of inflammable material through Railways. The above drive has been launched from March 22 (Monday)," the Railways said.
Instructions have also been given to zonal railway to conduct intensive drives against smoking in trains and railway premises, and violators may be booked under relevant provisions of Railways Act or Tobacco Act.
"An officer not below the rank of ticket collector of the commercial department or an officer of equivalent rank of operating department or an officer not below the rank of ASI in RPF have been notified as competent to act under the provisions of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003," it said.