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‘Rail Neer’ racket busted; Rs 20 crore seized by CBI

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Around Rs 20 crore in cash was seized by CBI during drives at 13 locations in Delhi and suburban Noida, Uttar Pradesh in connection with an alleged racket involved with the supply of packaged drinking water in premium trains. The racket allegedly supplied lower grade packaged drinking water other than the mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said, a case has been registered against the then Chief Commercial Manager (Catering) of Northern Railways MS Chalia, and a man named Sandeep Silas.

CBI also booked private companies – RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunshine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World – under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Notably, Silas has served as a private secretary to a former union minister.

Sources revealed that Rs 20 crore was seized from the residence of Shyam Bihari Agrawal and his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal, who own RK Associates and Brandavan Food Product.

The officials were accused of extending favours to these private firms in the supply of cheap packaged drinking water other than the mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains, including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express.

CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said the Railway Board had prescribed that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) shall provide ‘Rail Neer’ at Rs10.50 (approx) per bottle to private caterers who would be paid Rs 15 (approx) per bottle for supplying the same to passengers in premium trains.

However, private suppliers, in order to obtain undue gain, were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, other than ‘Rail Neer’, available in the market at Rs.5.70 to Rs.7 (approx) per bottle, thereby causing monetary gains to themselves and loss to the exchequer, the official said.

“The accused public servants did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in the premium trains, despite repeated requests from the IRCTC over non-lifting of allotted quota of ‘Rail Neer’ by private caterers,” the spokesperson said.

The CBI said that Railway Board directions to ensure the supply of ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains were ignored by accused officials, causing undue pecuniary advantage to private parties and corresponding loss to the IRCTC.

“Searches were conducted today (Friday) at 13 places in Delhi and Noida, which led to recovery of cash amount of around Rs 20 crore and a large number of incriminating documents,” the spokesperson added.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Will India be able to travel in the Bullet Train Soon? Yes, Say Railway Officials; Indian Railways Target Completing the Project Before the August 2022 Deadline

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14

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Bullet Train
Railway Board Chairman held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman. (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : Unfazed by opposition criticism, Indian Railways is working overtime to push ahead with the much-talked about the “Bullet Train” project, aiming to complete it ahead of the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who has a reputation of a turnaround man, has taken up the task of monitoring and chairing the periodic review meetings of the project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore ($15 billion).

Lohani held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Central government officials, Principal Secretary-rank officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra, officials of NHSRCL (National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited), officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the General Manager of Western Railway.

A senior railway board member, requesting anonymity, told IANS, “The railways is in no mood to delay the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project. Lohani will now hold a review meeting once every three months… And even on weekly basis, if required.”

Emphasising on the government’s intention, the official said, “The attendance of the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman, the Japanese Ambassador and the CRB in the review meeting is a clear signal that the government is taking the project seriously and there is no scope for any delay.”

“The CRB wants Indian Railway officials to take lessons from their Japanese counterparts about meeting deadlines,” he said.

The opposition has attacked the government for taking up a project at a huge cost instead of focusing on safety, a dire need of the time, and on schemes to improve passenger amenities.

The official said it was also decided at the meeting that “a road map for consultancy and civil engineering works will be prepared by January 2018”.

A ministry official associated with the Bullet Train project said a report on the signalling system and electrical reports would be ready by April 2018. According to him, the tracks and most of the signalling system would be brought from Japan.

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.

Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. And the repayment will begin only after 15 years.

The railway official said that to encourage the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme, “an appeal will be made to Indian and Japanese companies to make use the opportunity to work together”.

Meanwhile, the officials of the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat assured the railways of their help in land acquisition and smooth shifting of raw materials to construction venues.

A three-level monitoring committee was also constituted, including the Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog and Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.

A working group led by Managing Director of NHSRCL Achal Khare and consisting of representatives of the ministries concerned, and the representative of JICA, has been formed. Besides the two committees, a technical expert committee led by the Managing Director of NHSRCL has also been formed.

Of the 508 km stretch, 92 per cent (468 km) of the route will be elevated, six per cent (27 km) will be in tunnels and the remaining two per cent (13 km) will be on the ground .

The high-speed train would also pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea.

Twelve stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The distance will be covered in two hours and seven minutes if the train stops at four stations — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. If the train stops at all 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

According to Railway Ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train would be 320 kmph and the maximum speed would be 350 kmph.

 

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Anand K. Singh and was first published by IANS. Anand can be contacted at can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)

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Indian Railways starts Free Accidental Insurance Cover to Passengers who book their Tickets through Online Mode

Under the scheme a heir of the passenger is entitled to get Rs. 10 lakh in case of death, while the passenger would get Rs. 10 lakh if he is permanently disabled

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Howrah Station in West Bengal, Wikimedia

New Delhi, Dec 11, 2016: The Indian Railways on Saturday started giving free accidental insurance cover to the passengers who booked their tickets through online mode, IRCTC officials said.

“The railways has started giving free accident insurance to such passengers who book their tickets through online mode,” Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) spokesperson Sandip Dutta said.

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“The services were implemented around 2:30 p.m. today (Saturday),” he said.

The IRCTC official also said that the passengers with confirmed or RAC (Reserved Against Cancellation) tickets would be covered under this scheme.

The IRCTC’s action came three days after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a free accident insurance cover of Rs. 10 lakh for passengers who buy railway tickets online, in a bid to promote the cashless transaction post demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.

The optional insurance scheme was launched on September 1 by the IRCTC on a pilot basis for one year, which allowed a travelling passenger to get an insurance cover of up to Rs. 10 lakh on booking a train ticket online by paying just 92 paise.

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Under the scheme a heir of the passenger is entitled to get Rs. 10 lakh in case of death, while the passenger would get Rs. 10 lakh if he is permanently disabled.

The passenger would get a compensation of Rs. 7.5 lakh in case of partial disability, while Rs. 2 lakh will be paid for the hospitalisation expense.

The insurance company would also pay Rs. 10,000 for the transportation of the mortal remains.

The facility was also announced in the Railway Budget 2016-17.

According to railway officials, about 14 lakh railway passengers buy railway tickets daily — out of which 58 per cent tickets are bought online.

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Railway Board requests Finance Ministry for Separate Fund to Improve Safety of the Indian Railways

Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said that of the total of Rs 1,11,683 crore will be funded by the Finance Ministry

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Train, Flickr

New Delhi, November 18, 2016: The central government said on Friday that the Ministry of Railways has requested the Finance Ministry for a separate fund for improving safety of the Indian Railways.

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“Ministry of Railways has requested Ministry of Finance to sanction a non-lapsible Rastriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) totalling Rs 1,19,183 crore for safety improvements of Indian Railways,” Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

Gohain added that of the total of Rs 1,11,683 crore will be funded by the Finance Ministry.

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“The safety related works identified are related to track works, bridge rehabilitation, safety works at level crossing, replacement and improvement of signalling system, improvement and upgradation of rolling stock, replacement of electrical assets and human resource development,” he said. (IANS)