: In a move that heightens the ongoing war of words between former coalition partners - Congress and Trinamool Congress - Union minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury has scrapped the panels headed by people chosen by Mamata Banerjee when she was the railway minister.
"I have dismantled the three committees," Adhir Chowdhury told TOI on Tuesday.
The three panels enjoyed considerable clout during the Trinamool reign — first Mamata, and then Mukul Roy. The passenger services committee, headed by Derek O'Brien before he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, was responsible for the new catering policy. The panel on culture and heritage, which had thespian Saoli Mitra at the helm, ran exhibition trains and was to oversee construction of two museums to honour Rabindranath Tagore. While one museum has already come up at Bolpur, the fate of the other outside Howrah station hangs in balance. Mitra resigned from the post after Mamata walked out of the UPA. The other committee to be scrapped, on passenger amenities, was headed by painter Suvaprasanna.
Other consultative committees under the railways will continue to function. Sources close to Chowdhury said the panels were set up primarily to favour a section of intellectuals that had stood by Mamata before she swept to power.
While the heads of these committees were entitled to Rs 50,000 and all benefits, including medical and travel expenses, per month, the members' entitlement was Rs 25,000 plus perks. The sources claimed these committees served little purpose, so far as railway services were concerned.
Many in the railways had questioned the wisdom of setting up these committees, which didn't bring about any visible improvement in service. "The members toured throughout the country using their passes, stayed at officers' resthouses and made certain recommendations. Unfortunately, we didn't receive any positive feedback from passengers to suggest that these committees were helpful," an official said.
Source - Times of India