Nov 27, 2013

GRP constable assaults female engineering student in Andhra

Ongole: A female engineering student was allegedly sexually assaulted by a Government Railway Police constable in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, the police said here today.

Anand, a constable attached with the Tenali GRP, allegedly assaulted the 19-year-old girl last night on the outskirts of Cheruvukummapalam of Prakasam district and beat up her boyfriend, the police said.

While the accused forcibly took the girl to a lonely place and allegedly committed the crime, the victim’s boyfriend sent out cellphone text messages to his friends asking them to rush to the spot.

The youngsters chased the constable fleeing on his bike, when he suddenly fell down and sustained head injuries, after which he was admitted to a private hospital, the police said.

Neither the victim nor her parents lodged any formal complaint, though the police booked a suo motucase of sexual assault against the constable under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code. Further investigations are on.


What makes RapidMetro Gurgaon a ‘Unique Urban Transportation Project’ in the Country

Gurgaon: The country’s first privately-funded metro project, if successful, could spark a new trend inurban transport.

It might be a ride of less than 15 minutes, cost just Rs.12, stretch over all of 5.1 km and be just a week old, but it is the boldest metro experiment in the country.

If Gurgaon’s Rapid Metro, which connects the Delhi Metro with Cyber City, the suburb’s commercial hub, succeeds, it could change the face of urban transport in the country.

To begin with, it’s the only privately-funded public metro anywhere in the world. The project was initially conceived as a collaborative venture between real estate developer DLF and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, or IL&FS.

But DLF, facing financial problems, pulled out and IL&FS became the sole owner. The venture thus does not have any investment by the central government, Haryana or any other public sector undertaking.

It has raised the entire money for building and operating the project on its own balance sheet, without any guarantee or viability-gap funding from the government. And it did not even get the 20 acres of land which it needed for the project at any concessional rate from the state.

In contrast, the Kolkata Metro was owned fully by the Indian Railways. The Delhi Metro was a 50-50 venture between the Delhi government and the central government. In the first phase of the Mumbai Metro, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority took a 26 per cent stake, while Reliance Infrastructure and others owned the rest.

And in the Delhi Airport Express project, Delhi Metro invested in the civil construction, while Reliance Infrastructure invested in coaches, signaling equipment, tracks et cetera and got the concessions to run it. “It’s a unique business model,” says Sanjiv Rai, managing director of Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon Ltd, or RMGL, with evident pride.

Distinguishing features
RMGL’s project is different in other ways too. It’s the first time any state government has granted a 99-year concession to operate a project. Most public-private partnerships have a 30-year concession period which is renewable for another 30 years.

In the second phase of the Mumbai Metro, the concession is for 45 years. But a 99-year concession is unheard of. This, Rai says, is also the first time that a consortium of banks, led by Andhra Bank, has given a loan for a period of 17 years and nine months to a metro. In all other projects, the loans have tenure of not more than 15 years.

The Rs 1,100-crore project is funded seven parts by debt and three parts by equity. The debt carries interest of 13 per cent per annum, though there is a moratorium of two-and-a-half years on the repaymentof the principal.

Rai hopes to reduce the cost of funding by floating 30-year bonds, once the government permits it. This is in tune with the 30-year tenure of the loan given by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency to Delhi Metro.

Rai says by the end of the first year, he expects over 90,000 commuters to travel every day on the metro. And by merely changing the frequency of the trains, he can accommodate as many as 250,000 to 300,000 commuters every day without any sizeable investment. Rai expects to break even in the sixth year of operations on the current investment.

Meanwhile, the company has started work on the second phase which connects Delhi Metro with the second commercial hub of Gurgaon on the Golf Course Road. This stretch will be 6.6-km long and will cost double the amount of the first phase: Rs 2,143 crore.

At Rs 329 crore per km, it will be amongst the most expensive metro projects in the country. Rai, however, says that the huge increase in cost is because the line will be longer and it will have seven trains (compared to five in the existing line). Moreover, inflation is expected to take its toll on the cost because the project will take three years to build.

But many say that Rai’s ambitious projection of ridership will be difficult to achieve. More than one week after starting operations, the average ridership is just 10,000 a day.

Even if the numbers increase ten times in a year, the company, given the ticket of Rs 12, will make Rs 12 lakh a day and less than Rs 4 crore a month. This might not be enough to pay the monthly interest outgo of Rs 8.24 crore (13 per cent annual interest on a debt of Rs 761 crore).

But Rai says that does not concern him as a similar trend was seen when Delhi Metro began service: commuters take time to get used to a new alternative.

With 26 million square feet of office space in Cyber City, there is a large market. Offices work in two or even three shifts here. It is estimated that 250,000 people troop in for each shift. Parking is a nightmare. Many offices have taken paring slots inside faraway malls and run buses to ferry employees from there to the premises in Cyber City.

The demand for an inexpensive metro service is surely there. “We are talking to all companies in the location to offer an alternative to the taxi and bus services which they offer to their employees, which will save them costs. They could also use it partially,” says a senior RMGL executive. He also says the company is wooing commuters who currently spend Rs 100 a day on parking in Cyber City to take a more viable alternative.

Another big market is Udyog Vihar which lies across the busy highway (which connects Delhi to Jaipur) from CyberCity. It is estimated that an equally large number of people work there.

To tap into this market, RMGL has tied up with the Haryana government which will run 35 air-conditioned buses from Udyog Vihar to one of the metro stations. It is also talking with the state government as well as industry associations to pool in money to build a skywalk over the highway to connect Udyog Vihar to the metro. The skywalk would cost Rs 10 crore.

Higher tariffs

The company is also hopeful that the tariff will go up in the days to come. That’s because its tariff is linked to that of Delhi Metro. And Delhi Metro is known to revise its tariffs every three or four years. As the current tariff was fixed three years ago, it expects an increase as early as next year.

In the past, Delhi Metro has raised tariffs 25-26 per cent at one go; so it expects a similar increase next year too. Rai says: “The average annual increase comes to 6 to 7 per cent. That has been built in to our revenue projections.”

RMGL is also eyeing non-tariff revenues, which it expects will contribute 10 to 15 per cent of its overall revenues, despite the limited real estate play that it has been allowed.

The company has offered companies entire stations to brand (there are five stations at the moment; the sixth will be operational by March next year), for which it has already roped in big spenders like Vodafone and Micromax with a contract ranging from three to five years.

It is also branding the trains and has got on board companies like real estate developer 3C, car maker Skoda and American Express.

Rai says that the company has already sold about 50 per cent of its advertising inventory. The company also has permission, according to the concessions agreement, to utilise 250 square metres of space in each station to set up retail outlets; it has already got a pharmacy store open.

What will also help is that RMGL does not have to share the ticketing revenue with the Haryana government. The only thing it has to share with the state is a nominal 5 to 7 per cent of its non-ticketing revenues. It will work out to less than 1 per cent of its overall revenue.

So can the new model be replicated in other cities? Rai says that he is getting queries from other states and cities like Lucknow and Ludhiana which want to look at a similar model.

But he says that a privately-funded metro project can only work if it has a large catchment of commuters. If the experiment in Gurgaon works it could blaze a whole new trail – not just in India but across the world.


5 GRP Cops suspended in girls harassment case in Ganga-Damodar express train

Patna: Five officials of the Government Railway Police were suspended late on Monday for not helping a group of 93 school girls who were harassed by some youths on a train they boarded in Patna.

Railway Superintendent of Police Upender Kumar Sinha said that five Government Railway Police (GRP) officials, including a sub-inspector, were suspended.

“After the suspension, the department will take action against them,” Sinha said.

A group of youths, claiming to be examinees for a railway recruitment test of the East Central Railway at Dhanbad, boarded the Ganga-Damodar Express on Saturday night and occupied the seats reserved for the girls.

The girl students of Classes 9-12 of Carmel School in Dhanbad and Digwadih, were returning from a two-day educational tour in Patna. They were accompanied by five teachers and a nun.

When the girls and their teachers asked the youths to vacate their seats, they not only refused but also sexually harassed and abused them.

Sinha said that a special team has been set up to investigate the case and has been sent to Dhanbad to record statements of the school teachers and the students.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked Additional Director General of Police (Railway) PN Rai to inquire into the matter immediately.

In a written complaint sent by fax from Dhanbad to Railway Superintendent of Police Patna, teachers said they informed police officials on duty at the railway station and sought their help but the officials ignored them.

The teachers in their complaint said they were also manhandled by youths when they protested their unruly behaviour.

After no help came forth from police officials, the shocked and traumatised girls and their teachers ran to an AC three-tier coach on the train, where seats had been booked for some of the students.

They were forced to spend the night in the crammed compartment and reached Dhanbad on Sunday.

RailGate: Key accused seeks quashing of FIR, Cognisance Order

New Delhi: Suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar, a key accused in the Rs.10 Crore cash-for-post railway bribery case, has moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the trial court’s order taking cognisance of CBI’s charge sheet saying the Centre’s approval was not obtained prior to initiating the probe against him.

Justice Sunil Gaur today reserved his order on the plea which also seeks quashing of the FIR lodged against him as well as a stay on the Special CBI court’s proceedings in the case in which nine others including Vijay Singla, nephew of former Railway Minister P K Bansal, are also accused.

Kumar has sought quashing of the May 3, 2013 FIR lodged against him as well as the trial court’s July 4, 2013 order by which it had taken cognisance of the charge sheet in the case saying he was Secretary-level officer and under Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, it was mandatory for CBI to “seek prior approval of the central government before initiating any investigation” against him.

During the arguments, senior advocate U U Lalit, who appeared on behalf of Kumar, questioned the cognisance of the charge sheet saying “if the initiation (of probe) is bad, then as per law laid down, cognisance is bad”.

Advocate Narender Mann, who appeared for CBI, submitted that once the investigation starts and the trialcourt takes cognisance of the charge sheet, then the initiation of the probe cannot be questioned.

CBI had on July 2 filed its charge sheet in the case against 10 accused – then Member (Staff) of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar, Singla, Managing Director of Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Limited Manjunath Narain Rao, middlemen Ajay Garg and Sandeep Goyal, Rahul Yadav, Samir Sandhir, Sushil Daga, C V Venugopal and M V Murali Krishan.

Two more Metro trains to arrive in Chennai soon

Two more trains for Chennai Metro Rail will sail into Chennai Port this week. The second and third train were shipped from Sao Paolo in Brazil in the last week of October.

Just as in the case of the first train, which arrived from Brazil on May 31 and was subsequently taken to the depot in Koyambedu, these two trains will also go through various tests.

The test run for the first train was conducted in the first week of November in the 800-metre test track in the depot. “We will continue to the test the first train for the next few months. The other two trains will also go through static and dynamic tests and be checked for the effective functionality of the air-conditioning, traction system, air compressor and electricity,” said a Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) official.

The fourth and fifth trains are in various stages of completion, he added.

Chennai Metro Rail, being built at a cost of Rs. 14,600 crore, will have a total of 42 trains manufactured by France-based Alstom Transport. Of these, nine will be made in Brazil and the rest at the special economic zone, Sri City in Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, a diesel shunting loco reached Chennai Port on November 15 from USA. This loco will help in pulling trains either in the elevated or underground tracks in case of an emergency or for repairs.

“The loco will always be stationed at the depot. It will also be used for the maintenance of other trains at the Koyambedu depot,” said the official.

SOURCE - The Hindu





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