Par clears bill to give more powers to RPF

New Delhi: Parliament today approved a bill to provide more powers to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to check instances of theft in railways and prevent misuse of its vacant land.

The amendments to the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1996, will empower RPF to conduct inquiry and submit report to the court for prosecution, Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa said, winding up the discussion on the bill in the Lok Sabha.

The amendment bill, which was earlier cleared by Rajya Sabha, was approved by the lower house by voice vote.

Responding to the concerns of members who sought effective steps to protect property of railways, Muniyappa said the amendments were meant to seek those objectives. He said the Railways was in the process of filling 15,000 vacancies in the RPF, which has a sanctioned strength of 75,000.

On misuse of land, he said the Railways takes action on a continuous basis to free such land of illegal occupants under the appropriate laws. The amendments, Muniyappa said, were based on recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Earlier participating in the discussion, Kamal Kishor (Cong) suggested that the Railways should use surplus land in different parts of the country to set up schools, colleges and hospitals. The Railways, he said, could also consider setting up industries on surplus land to generate employment opportunities.

Independent member Tarun Mandal suggested that Railways should consider using the surplus land in consultation with public sector companies.