Thursday, July 29, 2021
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Deplorable condition of Indian railways

As it is Indian railways have witnessed several scams which are causing damage and now we have more scoundrels breeding, who are not doing their job perfectly. A Special CBI court remanded to 14-day judicial custody the three accused arrested in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in Rajdhani and other superfast trains. Indian railway always has incurred losses due to massive corruption. People’s comfort is always neglected. If you travel by Rajdhani you will realise looking at the bed sheets, pillows to food and all the other amenities provided by the railways are sub-standard. In the recent time, IRCTC incurred losses due to corruption in supply of packaged water on trains.

The CBI recovered Rs 20 crore in cash during searches at 13 locations against two former Northern Railways officials and seven private firms in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water other than mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains. A case has been registered against the then Chief Commercial Managers (PS and Catering) of Northern Railways M S Chalia and Sandeep Silas. The Ministry of Railways announced earlier that two officials whose homes were raided by the CBI stand suspended.

The agency has 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 Prevention of Corruption Act provisions. Silas has served as the private secretary of a former Union Minister. It is alleged that the accused had shown favour to these private firms in supply of cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express. The Railway Board had prescribed that IRCTC shall provide Rail Neer at a rate of Rs 10.50 (approx) per bottle to the private caterers and the private caterers will be paid Rs 15 (approx) per bottle for supplying the same to passengers in premium trains.

However, the private suppliers in order to obtain undue gain, were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, other than “Rail Neer”, available in the market at a rate of Rs 5.70 to 7.00 (approx) per bottle, thereby causing gain to themselves and loss to the exchequer. The accused public servants did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in the premium trains despite repeated requests of IRCTC for non-picking of allotted quota of ‘Rail Neer’ by Private Caterers. Directions of Railway Board to ensure supply of “Rail Neer” in premium trains were also ignored by the official’s thereby causing undue pecuniary advantage to the private parties and corresponding loss to IRCTC. The accused were produced before the court after completion of their five-day CBI custody.

The Indian Railways with its vast assortment of railway networks comprising 115,000 kilometres of track over a route of 65,000 km covering 7,500 stations is one of the world’s largest railway networks and transports more than 25 million passengers annually. Apart from an important means of transport the Indian Railways have been a great integrating force for more than 150 years. Railways in India bind the economic life of the country as well as accelerate the development of the industry and agriculture. With revenues of over 11 million which mainly comes from freight and passenger tickets, the condition of Indian Railways remains deplorable and shabby. Due to its old and outdated tracks resulting in speed restrictions and many serious railway accidents and loss faced by the railways due to a large number of passengers travelling without tickets, the common man has to bear the brunt of travelling in trains that are of obsolescent and outmoded technology and face problems while commuting in these trains.

Railway ministry boast about many things but the commuters have to travel in unpardonable and inexcusable conditions, they have to travel in unhygienic ambience. Despite being the lifeline for a majority of the population in India and the principal mode of transportation for freight and passengers in India, it is not deemed easy to travel in the trains due to the bitter experience one has while travelling. People not only have to incur financial losses but they have to bear mental harassment. Sometimes trains are delayed, sometimes ticket booking inconvenience, sometimes there is water scarcity in coaches, toilets are never clean and sanitation remains a big challenge. From dry-cleaning of bed sheets and blankets to serving quality of food, everything is compromised and no proper checking is ever done, no vigilance, even supervisors are bribed, ticket collectors are almost greedy. India railways was never kind to middleclass or poor travellers.

Crores of rupees are sanctioned in budget for the upgradation of Indian railways, every year fare hikes are imposed, inspite of taking these steps the condition of railway is Ram Bharose. God knows when things are going to change.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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