May 9, 2014

रेलवे में पदोन्नति घोटाला, बड़ी अनियमितता सामने आई

रेलवे बोर्ड में दो सचिवालय संबंधी सेवाओं में पदोन्नतियों में एक बड़ी अनियमितता सामने आई है। आधिकारिक सूत्रों ने बताया कि रेल मंत्रालय के कुछ अधिकारी रेलवे की दो कम जानी पहचानी सेवाओं, रेलवे बोर्ड सचिवालय सेवा और रेलवे बोर्ड सचिवालय लिपिकीय सेवा में उचित प्रक्रिया का पालन किए बिना और केंद्रीय मंत्रिमंडल के अधिकार क्षेत्र की उपेक्षा कर अधिकारियों को पदोन्नत करते पाए गए हैं।

उन्होंने कहा कि अधिकारियों को सेवा के न्यूनतम 16 साल के अनुभव के मानक को पूरा किए बिना भारतीय रेल सेवा अभियांत्रिकी इंजीनियर, भारतीय रेल कर्मी सेवा और यहां तक कि भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा जैसी ग्रुप ए की रेलवे सेवाओं की उपेक्षा कर उच्च प्रशासनिक ग्रेड और वरिष्ठ प्रशासनिक ग्रेड में पदोन्नत किया जा रहा है।

एचएजी और एसएजी को क्रमश: एक अतिरिक्त सचिव और संयुक्त सचिव स्तर का अधिकारी दिया जाता है।

सूत्रों ने बताया कि वर्तमान में सामान्य तौर केंद्रीय सचिवालय सेवा से ताल्लुक रखने वाले किसी अधिकारी को सेवा के 23 साल पूरे करने के बाद एसएजी दिया जाता है, ग्रुप ए के रेलवे सेवा अधिकारी को सेवा के 23 साल बाद और आईएएस अधिकारी को सेवा के 20 साल बाद।

उन्होंने कहा कि आरबीएसएस में कई अधिकारियों को आवश्यक जरूरतों को पूरा किए बिना एसएजी ग्रेड दिया जा रहा है, जबकि उन्हें ग्रुप बी सेवा में भर्ती किया गया था। इसे एक गंभीर गलती करार देते हुए वित्त मंत्रालय ने हाल में रेलवे को लिखा है कि वह इन अधिकारियों को पदोन्नत करने के अपने फैसले को रद्द करे जिसके लिए लगभग एक साल पहले ओदश जारी किए गए थे।

वित्त मंत्रालय के तहत व्यय विभाग ने उल्लेख किया कि आरबीएसएस और आरबीएससीएस के कैडर का पुर्नगठन करते समय रेल मंत्रालय ने मामला स्वीकृति के लिए इस विभाग को नहीं भेजा और उल्टे मंत्रिमंडल की मंजूरी के बिना एसएजी स्तर के पांच अतिरिक्त पद सजित कर दिए।

इसने रेलवे को लिखे कड़े शब्दों वाले आधिकारिक पत्रक में कहा कि यह निर्णय लेने वाले प्राधिकारी के समक्ष तथ्यात्मक स्थिति और नियम एवं शर्त रखने के जिम्मेदार अधिकारियों की ओर से एक गंभीर खामी है।

नियमों के मुताबिक एसएजी स्तर से नीचे के पद सृजित करने के लिए वित्त मंत्री और स्तर से उपर के संयुक्त सचिव तथा अन्य पद सृजित करने के लिए केंद्रीय मंत्रिमंडल की मंजूरी आवश्यक होती है।
SOURCE - HINDUSTAN

Heavy rain in Kerala, railway cancels many trains

एर्नाकुलम Ernakulam (ERS): Heavy rain and inundation of tracks at Ernakulam area has resulted in signal failure and forced Railways to cancel/short terminate trains today.

A railway press release today said the Karaikal-Ernakulam Express reaching Ernakulam Jn at 0625 hours terminated at Ernakulam Town.

The Ernakulam-Kottayam Passenger scheduled to leave Ernkulam Jn at 0730 hrs started from Ernakulam Town.

The Ernakulam-Guruvayur Passenger scheduled to leave Ernakulam at 0600 hrs is cancelled.

The Guruvayur-Trissur Passenger scheduled to leave Guruvayur at 0900 hrs is cancelled.

The Trissur-Guruvayur Passenger scheduled to leave Trissur at 1045 hrs is cancelled.

The Guruvayur-Ernakulam Passenger scheduled to leave Guruvayur at 1320 hrs is cancelled.

The Ernakulam-Alappuzha passenger scheduled to Ernakulam Jn at 0730 hrs is cancelled.

Source-Rail News

Adani gets nod for $15.5bn Coal, Rail projects in Australia

मेलबोर्न Melbourne: Energy-to-ports Adani Group on Thursday won approval for a massive Aus$16.5 billion (USD 15.5 billion) coal and rail project in Australia’s Queensland.

Mumbai-listed Adani Enterprises’ Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the untapped Galilee Basin is perhaps the largest in the world.

The mine will produce 60 million tonnes a year of thermal coal used in power stations. The project also includes a 189-kilometer rail line north-west of Clermont.

The Australian state of Queensland on Thursday gave approval to the project, deputy premier Jeff Seeney said. The coal mine and rail project in central Queensland will be subject to dozens of environmental and social conditions and still is to get federal government nod.

“This project has the potential to be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world,” Seeny said in a statement.

Among the conditions that Adani will have to meet include compensating landholders affected by any harm to water supplies.

Adani welcomed the approval and said it could now move to the next stage of the project.

“We remain committed to delivering the multi-billion dollar project,” Adani Chairman Gautam Adani said in a statement.

The Indian Group will use Abbot Point port to export 60 million tonnes of coal a year mined from Carmichael using a combination of open-cut and underground mining.

“The project has the potential to create up to 2500 construction and 3900 operational jobs,” Seeny said adding “jobs would be significant to the future economic prosperity of that region and to all of Queensland.”

“It also includes a 189-kilometre rail line, water supply infrastructure, coal handling and processing plant, and off-site infrastructure including workers’ accommodation village and airport”.

Seeney said the coordinator-general’s report will be handed to the Federal Minister for his decision on issues pertaining to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act under the assessment bilateral agreement.

“The coordinator-general has thoroughly assessed all matters of national environmental significance issues and recommended conditions to address every matter,” he said.

“The proponent will also need to obtain a water licence, mining lease and environmental authority.

“The stringent and wide-ranging conditions set by the coordinator-general also include protections for local flora, landholder interests, groundwater resources, the quality of surface water leaving the project site, air quality, and noise and dust levels.

“In relation to groundwater and water bores, Adani will be required to reach make-good agreements with all affected landholders including the identification and provision of alternative water supplies.”

Seeney said the decision represents another major step forward to unlocking the resource potential of the Galilee basin for the benefit of all Queenslanders.
Adani, GVK, Lanco seek to cut stake in Australian coal mines

Plan is to reduce debt and get financial and technical partners on board

The Adani, GVK and Lanco groups are looking to sell part of their stakes in Australian coal mining projects to reduce debt and get financial and technical partners on board.

Senior executives of the Adani and GVK groups confirmed they were in talks with contractors and customers to pick up stakes in their coal, port and railway projects because that would help them get technical and construction experts on board. Coal mine stakes are also being offered to companies that have set up power plants across Asia and want guaranteed coal supplies.

“We may look at selling a stake in the railway project to a railway company and a stake in the port project to a port operator,” said a GVK Group executive, who did not wish to be named.

The Adani group plans to invest $15.4 billion and the GVK group $10 billion in Australia to develop coal mines, railway lines to transport the output, and dedicated ports. Both groups were over-leveraged which made it difficult for them to raise debt \(see chart) for the projects, and hence the plan for stake sales, bankers said.

On the other hand, the Hyderabad-based Lanco group might sell its holding in Australia’s Griffin Coal Mining Company as it tried to lower its Rs 34,000-crore debt, bankers added. The group expects a valuation of Rs 3,100 crore for Griffin Coal Mining Company, which it bought for $750 million in 2011. An email to the Lanco group did not elicit a response.

A senior Adani executive who did not wish to be named said the group was looking to sell a 50 per cent stake in its australian coal mine and railway and was in talks with Chinese and South Korean investors.

In August 2010, Adani Enterprises spent $490 million to acquire the rights to develop the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland and has invested close to $2 billion, including on a dedicated port. Last year, the coal mine project was taken over by the group’s promoters to reduce Adani Enterprises’ debt.

In September 2011, the GVK group spent $1.26 billion to acquire the rights to develop the Alpha, Alpha West and Kevin’s Corner coal and infrastructure projects.

But energy experts say the projects will not be viable and the cost of electricity produced by imported Australian coal will be very high for Indian consumers. Tim Beckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute of Energy Economics, Sydney, said both the Adani and GVK coal basin proposals were running three-four years late, with financing not in place.

“A power purchase agreement of Rs 5.4-5.70 per kWh would be required, plus price indexation of four per cent a year to justify the construction of a power plant in India based on Australian coal. This is double the last reported average sales price of electricity across India of Rs 3 per kWh and triple the local coal-fired power purchase price signed over recent years,” he said.

Source-Rail News

Chennai Metro begins Trial Runs on Second Track

चेन्‍नई Chennai (MAS): A trial run of a metro rail train was conducted on the second line between Koyambedu and Ashok Nagar. The line was recently electrified.

“We operated a train once soon after electrification. This is the second trial. Regular trials began from Thursday on the parallel line from CMBT to Ashok Nagar,” said a senior Chennai Metro Rail Ltd official. The stretch is part of the CMBT-Alandur-St Thomas Mount elevated line scheduled to be opened for traffic early next year.

Two trains were pulled using a diesel locomotive at different speeds. Overhead power cables will be tested, after which rakes with metro rail engines will be tested. Officials will monitor performance of the tracks and the different parameters of the train in the coming days.

Several trials will have to be carried out before the line can be opened. The line till Ashok Nagar is ready and work on laying tracks and installing overhead cables from Ashok Nagar to Alandur is underway. The viaduct till Alandur station over Kathipara flyover is complete. Sources said CMRL officials planned to extend trials to Alandur as early as possible.

Trials on the first track, began in November last year. The train is also being run as a showpiece.

Meanwhile, trains manufactured at Alstom’s facility in Sri City have started to arrive at Koyambedu depot. The third set of trains, of the 33 to be made at the factory, reached the depot a few days ago. These trains are first tested on a test track, then hauled to the elevated line using a diesel locomotive before being run as part of routine trials.

CMRL has awarded contracts to new companies to complete station work that the earlier contractor could not finish on Koyambedu-St Thomas Mount stretch.

Source-Rail News

Rail Insurance: Railway Accident victims deserve better than Arbitrary ex-gratia Relief

It happens over and over again. After a gruesome train accident — the last being the one near Mumbai on May 5 — the Railway Minister announces ex gratia relief, experts repeat their lines on rail safety and everything is forgotten in a week. What is rarely, if ever, discussed is the absence of a fair, clear-cut system of compensation, rather than one that starts and generally ends with an ex gratia dole.

It is true that the bereaved can make a claim at the Railways Accident Claims Tribunal, which awards a maximum of ₹4 lakh for death and slices disability into 34 categories to award compensation ranging from ₹32,000 to ₹3.6 lakh. But the process is cumbersome and discourages people from applying for compensation. The logical step would be to migrate to a system of rail insurance — a rights-based system that reinforces the rights of the bereaved while also keeping the interests of insurers and the Railways in mind.

The Railways carries 24 million passengers daily. While there are far too many accidents, thanks to a callous disregard for safety, less than three passengers lose their lives to accidents daily (about 900 in a year). A generous insurance cover can be generated out of a modest premium built into the train ticket.

An attempt was made in 2008, when some private Insurance Cos., provided a cover of ₹4 lakh on a premium of five paise per ticket. Strangely, this did not sustain because the Railways was opposed to an increase in premium and the two parties failed to agree on how the corpus should be used. A premium of just ₹2 from 24 million daily passengers can mop up close to ₹1,800 crore annually. Even if compensation for death was raised from ₹4 lakh to ₹20 lakh, the outgo per year would be only ₹180 crore. Compensation for disability should vary not just with the seriousness of injury but also the age of the passenger. A young individual below 40 years should be compensated to the extent of, say, 75 per cent of the life claim if his injury robs him of his capacity to earn a livelihood. For other cases of injury, the categories should be reduced to a minimum in order to reduce red tape. Even if this simplification leads to higher compensation levels, the sums involved are likely to fall within 10 per cent of the annual premium collection.

Higher compensation levels are desirable not merely in principle; they could spur the Railways into showing some more concern about safety.

The modalities of premium-sharing can be worked out by setting up a committee with the Railways, the IRDA and private players as members. Perhaps, a joint venture arrangement could work well in the initial stages, with a portion of the premium being used for safety measures.

These details can be worked out later; the immediate need is to put an agreed upon framework in place.

Source-Rail News

Kochi Metro: Residents near Metro Yard face flood threat

Kochi: Even as steps have been initiated to clear the choked city drains ahead of monsoon, the threat of water clogging looms large over the people residing in the vicinity of the metro yard in Muttom.

Locals said the reclamation of land at Chavarpadam, site for the proposed metro yard, was posing a threat to the natural drainage system connecting the low-lying area with river Periyar. “The land filling operations have considerably shrunk the size of drainages while the Punchathodu Periyar Valley canal, a major water body in the locality, has been levelled partially, resulting in an artificial flooding during the monsoon,” said K.K.Sivanandan, a local resident and a member of Choornikkara Panchayat.

“At least 400 families residing in the areas of Muttom, Ambattukavu and Thayikkattukara fear that their houses will get inundated in the upcoming rainy season,” Mr. Sivanandan said. To back his argument, he also pointed to the flooding caused by a release of excess water from the Idukki dam, last year.

The locals also said that they wanted the land reclamation to stop immediately and had even staged protests at the spot. They said that if the reclamation could not be stopped, then they wanted a proper retaining of drainage systems.

Confirming that land filling operations led to narrowing of drainage channels, Santha Unnikrishnan, president of Choornikkara panchayat, said that the situation would worsen if the government and the metro authority failed to act in time. “They have already reclaimed acres of land and despite the assurances earlier, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited is yet to work on the construction of drainages to accommodate the excess water flowing to here,” she said.

Despite approaching the district administration and the State government seeking urgent action, the local body was yet to get any assurances regarding the setting up of a canal system before the onset of monsoon. “Notwithstanding the fact that the authorities are already late working on it, the issue will be raised as a matter requiring urgent action during a meeting to be held at the office of the Chief Minister on May 7,” the president added.

Commenting on the issue, a top official with the metro authority said that a committee would be formed comprising representatives of the Panchayat, Kochi metro authority and the district administration to execute the work on an alternative drainage network. “We have already constructed several stretches of the canal system in the area and the remaining work will be taken up on a priority basis in the wake of a fast approaching monsoon,” the official said.
Hundreds take to the streets demanding end to traffic woes
Protesters demand time-bound completion of Kochi metro

Hundreds of activists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] and the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) took out a march to the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) office on Tuesday demanding time-bound completion of Kochi metro and steps to streamline traffic flow in the vicinity of metro work sites.

Speakers at a dharna organised in front of the KMRL office in Revenue Tower said traffic problems could have been avoided if the State government, the Kochi Corporation and the KMRL had widened narrow roads, developed alternative roads and bridges that were planned years before metro works commenced. Currently, even ambulances are stuck in traffic for long periods.

The suspicion is rife that metro works are being delayed at the behest of vested interests. The statement by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan that the metro might not be commissioned on time because of different obstacles pointed to the State government’s inability to speed up works, they said. Those who spoke include P. Rajeeve, MP, and CPI(M) district secretary C.M. Dinesh Mani.

Source-Rail News

Skoda Transportation plans for setting up of Metro Coach Manufacturing Plant near Vizag

हैदराबाद Hyderabad: Czech company Skoda is exploring possibilities of establishing a manufacturing unit for metro rail coaches in India, according to the Czech ambassador in India Miloslav Stasek.

“Skoda Transportation is exploring different locations (for the metro coach facility) and is close to making a decision. We have identified two locations – near Vizag and the other near Tada in Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh”

By building coaches locally Skoda Transportation hopes to price them more aggressively for the India market.

These coaches are currently flown into the country in large transport aircraft.

The report suggests that Skoda, which already supplies coaches for the Delhi Metro, is keen to manufacture them within India as several cities like Jaipur, Kochi, Bangalore, Lucknow and Mumbai have embarked upon metro projects.

Source-Rail News

Chennai Blasts: Was Bomb planted in train between Byappanahalli yard and City Station?

चेन्‍नई Chennai (MAS): The Crime Branch (CB)-CID police from Chennai are not ruling out the possibility that the bombs, which exploded in the Kaziranga Express in Chennai, were planted much before the train reached the Bangalore City Railway Station and are trying to locate CCTV cameras installed in houses and buildings on the route.

“If there are CCTV cameras en route, they may provide vital clues into whether something happened on the train before it reached the City Railway Station,” a city police officer said.

“The team is particularly looking at whether some of the coach doors on the train were open before the train reached station, which would indicate that someone was on the train before it reached the station and picked up the passengers,” he said.

The Kaziranga Express was stationed at the Byappanahalli yard, from where it came to the City Railway Station and picked up passengers traveling between Bangalore and Guwhati.

On Thursday, the CB-CID officials, along with the city police, took a recce of the route in a motor trolley. They have also requested for a detailed map of the railway station from the General Railway Police (GRP).

The lack of security at railway yards was identified as a risk soon after these twin blasts. In a circular issued to all the Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors and Circle Inspectors in the Railways in Karnataka on May 1, the Railway SP has asked both RPF and GRP to mandatorily inspect the railway yards regularly.

“Railway yards, where many trains are stationed, barely have any security. Apart from the RPF, the GRP should also, consistently, check yards and be on the lookout for unidentified or suspicious persons or objects. Night rounds should also be mandatorily done by both RPF and the GRP,” the SP directed, recommending the usage of binoculars and search lights to do so.

The twin blasts in the Kaziranga Express killed a 24-year-old techie from Bangalore and injured 14 others. The blast took place at the Chennai Railway station on May 1.
Source-Rail News

 

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