In countrywide surprise checks at 65 locations, CBI along with Indian Railways’ vigilance officers and digital forensic experts unraveled major irregularities in the weighment of freight carried in trains.
Freight earnings comprise of almost two-thirds of the revenue of Indian Railways. The transporters are worse affected by the said irregularities, which is also deteriorating the tracks on long routes where the freight wagons move.
The Times of India (TOI) reported that CBI is soon going to register multiple FIRs. The agency is also keeping a hawk eye on several senior officers of railways, private vendors and freight transporters. CBI smells that the ‘scam’ may have caused a great damage of Rs. 4,263 crore going by the statistics of 2012-13. In addition, they are also investigating under-reporting of weighment of last three financial years, reported TOI.
The four-day surprise checks, commenced on April 17, were carried out at more than 65 Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridge (EIMWB) locations that included regions of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Punjab, Jharkhand, Assam, UP, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, MP, Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan and Gujarat etc.
“Systematic under-weighment was found at many locations leading to the EIMWB recording a lower than actual weight. The quantum of under-weighment increased with an increase in speed of the rake,” found CBI during the investigations.
The agency also stated that the software of static and in-motion weigh bridges used by railways for weighment purposes are maneuvered.
A CBI officer said that, “The manipulation has been done through collusion amongst railway officials, private vendors and freight operators and is not only causing huge financial loss to the government exchequer but also corresponding gain to private freight operators/private persons and is damaging railway tracks, wagons, etc. and is adversely affecting railway safety.”
“The software was set in a way in EIMWBs that it will always show less weight in the wagon,” added the officer.
In an effort to show solidarity with the Indian Railways which has helped lakhs of stranded migrants reach home via ‘Shramik special trains, consultant firm WolfzHowl in association with Mavcomm Group have launched a new #ThankYouIndianRailways initiative.
The aim is to contribute in spreading that light of positivity in these rather bleak Covid-19, the companies said in statement.
The #ThankYouIndianRailways initiative has been created to highlight the tireless work the Indian Railways has been doing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
WolfzHowl has released a 1-minute 45-second long ‘#ThankYouIndianRailways’ video on various social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with a ‘chuk chuk rail gadi’ song as a tribute to the Indian Railways.
“Celebrating the achievements of our Indian railways in the fight against Covid-19 is a celebration of our own ingenuity as a nation,” said Kalyan Ram Challapalli, Chief Strategist and Founder, WolfzHowl Strategic Instigations.
“It’s an honour to be associated as partners with this campaign which expresses our appreciation for the stellar role played by Indian Railways in serving the people and nation amongst not only the Covid-19 situation but at all times,” added Anand Mahesh Talari, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Mavcomm Group. (IANS)
The official said that during the lockdown the railways deployed over 500 modern heavy duty track maintenance machines, signal and overhead equipment (OHE) maintainers have worked regularly for 10,749 machine days to complete overdue track maintenance of 12,270 km plain track and 5263 number of turn outs
Following the suspension of passenger, mail and express train services amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Indian Railways has utilised the time for long pending maintenance work and yard remodelling that earlier acted as bottlenecks.
Railway ministry officials said that during the last 41 days of the nationwide lockdown the national transporter has taken up the maintenance of bridges, remodelling of yards, renewal of scissors crossover, which have been pending for several years.
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“These works were pending for several years and were confronting railways with severe bottlenecks. Railways planned these works during lockdown period considering it once in a lifetime opportunity to wipe out these maintenance arrears and take up the execution of work without affecting the train services,” he said.
The official said that during the lockdown the railways deployed over 500 modern heavy duty track maintenance machines, signal and overhead equipment (OHE) maintainers have worked regularly for 10,749 machine days to complete overdue track maintenance of 12,270 km plain track and 5263 number of turn outs.
The official said that during the lockdown the health of the tracks has been monitored through periodic runs of Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS). Besides the OMS technique, the railways also used the Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) technique on 30,182 km of track and 1.34 lakh rail welds have been carried out with USFD machines.
“Critical summer precaution activities like de-stressing of long welded rail (LWR) which involved huge manpower has been taken up with a new procedure for carrying out the work while ensuring social distancing norms. 2,246 km of de-stressing of LWR has been done,” the official said. The official added that a major block of 72 hours was taken in Kazipet yard for pending yard remodelling to replace old wooden scissors crossover laid in 1970 with standard concrete layout to improve the safety and speed of train movement through the yard.
The government on Friday announced to extend the lockdown by two more weeks till May 17. The railways has also suspended passenger, mail and express train services till May 17 and only Shramik Special trains will run on the request of the state governments to transport migrant labourers, students, pilgrims and tourists stranded in several parts of the country. The railways is only running the freight and special parcel trains to ensure the supply of essential items across the country. (IANS)
Schools, colleges and universities worldwide have been closed since March 11, 2020 when COVID-19 was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global pandemic.
But for 69 lecturers of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the door was shut against them since May 11, 2018 – two years ago. Like the outbreak of COVID-19, there was no warning. These lecturers were ambushed with retrenchment letters in the middle of the semester while teaching students in class.
The dismissal letters gave them seven days to take their personal property and vacant the premises. They were caught off-guard with mortgages, loans, rent and bills to pay as well as families to feed. They were suddenly without a job and medical insurance.
The stay-at-home retrenchment order was triggered to these “surplus” lecturers who had become “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.” Was their forced quarantine justified? Let’s look at the facts and revelations, using my situation as a case study.
My teaching load was higher
In all its internal and external releases, University of Trinidad and Tobago has declared that lecturers’ teaching load (as opposed to work-load, which would have included research and service) was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment.
UTT’s disclosure to my Freedom of Information (FOIA) application after I was dismissed states that I was carrying a teaching load of 70.8%, excluding Practicum. However, there were other Assistant Professors who had considerably lower teaching load percentages, but were not selected for retrenchment.
Some of them had scores as low as 15%, 28%, 35%, 38%, etc. In fact, of the 20 Assistant Professors who were retained, only two (2) or 10% had higher teaching load percentages than mine.
Although my teaching load percentage (70.8%) was higher than most of my former colleagues, who were retained, I should have earned yet a higher teaching score had it not been for an error and contradiction on the part of UTT.
University of Trinidad and Tobago’s disclosure to me after I was fired reveals that the PRACTICUM courses I taught were not counted as part of my teaching load. However, the same PRACTICUM Term 2 courses (PRAC 1002 and PRAC 2002) were counted for my colleagues, Additionally, a PRACTICUM Term 3 course (PRAC 2001) was counted for others but not for me.
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These errors and contradictions by UTT are important to note because the university has declared that lecturers’ teaching load was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment.
These errors and contradictions in computing the teaching load scores for me constitute bias, inequality, unfairness and injustice in selecting me for retrenchment. These mistakes and paradoxes resulted in my dismissal which caused me grave humiliation, pain, suffering, stress, trauma and rejection as well as loss of income, status, dignity, pride and institutional affiliation.
Was this Programme really being phased out?
In many of its releases and correspondences, University of Trinidad and Tobago has stated that I and other lecturers were retrenched because the Secondary School Specialisation courses which they taught were being phased out as part of the university’s restructuring exercise.
At the dismissal meeting at the Centre for Education Programmes (CEP) at UTT, administrator Dr Judy Rocke also told the assembled lecturers that all Secondary School Specialisation courses were being phased out, resulting in us being “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.” The following facts reveal that this statement is not true.
These same courses were timetabled for a NEW cohort of students during the new semester which began in September 3, 2018. These Secondary School Specialisation courses are taught from Year 2. One of these courses which was not phased out for the new Year 2 student-intake was ANTH 2001- Caribbean Cultural Anthropology, which I taught. After my retrenchment, I was replaced by a lecturer who was not qualified to teach ANTH 2001.
Substitute lecturers not qualified
The Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) made the following written disclosures to me, dated August 23, 2019. Its Executive Director, Dr Eduardo Ali, stated that my substitute lecturer was “not qualified to teach” ANTH 2001. Additionally, Dr Ali stated that another substitute lecturer teaching the course TVOC 2003: Job Task Analysis in Semester 1 during the Academic Year 2018-2019 at CEP was also “not qualified to teach the said course”.
I began my tenure at UTT as an Assistant Professor in January 2007 – longer than most of my former colleagues, who held Ph.D. degrees in CEP. My latest Performance Management and Appraisal Process (PMAP) appraisal score dated October 3, 2017 was 95 out of 100. This score was given, approved and endorsed by my immediate supervisor, Dr Judy Rocke, who paradoxically selected me for dismissal.
Myskills and qualifications are more diverse than those of most of my former teaching colleagues. My M.Phil. degree is in the Humanities (Literatures in English) and my Ph.D. is in the Social Sciences (Anthropology).
Dr. Mahabir is a former Organization of American States (OAS) Fellow and the recipient of a Government National Award for Education.