May 10, 2013

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal resigns

Indian Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has resigned over allegations of corruption.

Mr Bansal, 64, stepped down after his nephew's recent arrest on charges of bribery. It is the latest in a series of government corruption scandals.

"I have always observed the highest standard of probity in public life," Mr Bansal told local media.

"I look forward to an expeditious investigation by CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] into the matter."

The opposition's demands for Mr Bansal to resign paralysed the Indian parliament over the last week and even disrupted a budget session.

His departure is the latest in a series of corruption scandals that has hit India's Congress-led government since it came to power in 2009.

Local media reported that Mr Bansal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in Delhi to discuss his position.

The Congress party said earlier on Friday that "it was not going to spare anybody mired in corruption" and that they are examining the allegations against Mr Bansal "very seriously".

Party officials told the AFP news agency that his position had become untenable.

Mr Bansal was appointed as railways minister in October last year.


Top rail officials meet to avoid bribery case taint

Faced with the prospect of scrutiny by the CBI in all major appointments in the Railways Ministry in recent years, top-level officers went into a huddle Thursday to distance themselves from the bribery case and suspended Mahesh Kumar.

An emergency meeting of the governing council of the Federation of Railway Officers' Association, which represents Group A officers, saw fireworks over secretary general Shubranshu's letter to the Cabinet Secretary alleging "wrongdoings" in top-level railway appointments. Some Executive Directors said the letter cast doubt over all top appointments and that amounted to the federation implicating its own officers. Faced with their ire, the secretary general reportedly said those were his personal views.

A general body meeting has now been called on May 24 where the officers would discuss how to distance themselves from the ongoing case. "Railway officers are getting demoralised with the news of the probe. All officers should not be linked with the case of Mahesh Kumar. Also, the Electrical directorate should not be viewed as a plump post because our annual allocation is only around Rs 2,400 crore from the total Railways budget of over Rs 63,000 crore," said R K Bhatnagar, Adviser (Electrical) in the Railway Board and president of the association.

The association also joined hands with some other unions to draft a joint statement that termed Pawan Kumar Bansal "an able and experienced administrator". It pledged support to Bansal's "future endeavours to bring about healthy changes in Railways". Bansal did not attend Thursday's Cabinet meeting amid speculation over his imminent resignation.

The statement is seen largely as an initiative of the Congress-backed National Federation of Indian Railwaymen.

The largest union of the Railways, the All India Railwaymen's Federation, on the other hand, had demanded Bansal's resignation on Wednesday.
Source -  Indian Express

DMRC fine-tuning traffic regulation blueprint

The blueprint for the traffic modifications to be imposed in the City during the construction work of the Kochi Metro Rail will be finalised soon.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) which is implementing the `5,182-crore Kochi Metro Rail project has held discussions with the City Traffic Police and other authorities concerned to chalk out a proper plan for diverting traffic.

The tenders for the construction of viaducts and stations from Aluva to Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kaloor, have been awarded and the remaining work is also expected to be allotted soon.

According to DMRC officials, the work of Kochi Metro Rail is expected to begin by this month-end and the traffic regulations will be introduced before that.

An official spokesperson of the DMRC said the agency that has undertaken the work would also appoint traffic wardens along with the Traffic police. “In projects like Delhi Metro Rail, the DMRC gets the support of traffic wardens for successfully diverting traffic. Here also, we expect to do the same,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Salim Rajan RoB, the second major Metro Rail-related work, will be dedicated to the public on Sunday.

The traffic regulations in connection with the new RoB will come into effect on Monday.

It is learnt that the Traffic Police will finalise the details by Friday, ahead of the trail run.

As per the initial plans, vehicles will have to use the underpass, near Kathrikkadavu bridge to enter and exit the new bridge from the Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road.

Buses plying to Vyttila can keep off the busy Ernakulam South Junction and bridge as they can reach Vyttila through Subhash Bose Road once the vehicular movement is allowed through the new RoB.

The DMRC spokesperson said that there is no need for apprehensions over the traffic chaos likely to erupt with the commencement of Metro Rail work.

“The work will be carried out only after widening the roads. The eight-metre stretch to be barricaded for the Metro will not mar the two-lane traffic as necessary widening will be carried out. All the apprehensions will be cleared once the blue print is ready,” he said.
Source - New Indian Express

Firm headed by 'bribe arranger' was eyeing key railway project

CBI investigators piecing together the money trail in the alleged railway bribery scam believe that Narayan Rao Manjunath, the managing director of the Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Ltd, was the main financier in the deal and had arranged Rs 90 lakh to be paid on behalf of Railway Board member (staff) Mahesh Kumar.

Kumar, according to investigators, had assured Manjunath he would "work in his favour" after taking over as member (electrical). The CBI believes Manjunath's firm, G G Tronics, stood to gain significantly had the deal gone through.

G G Tronics is a familiar name in the railways' research and development circles, particularly when it comes to signals and telecommunication. The firm has been engaged in developing and providing various S&T equipment to Indian Railways and also been involved in projects in the Railways' Research Designs and Standards Organisation at Manaknagar, Lucknow.





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