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After arrest of techie, online Tatkal booking softwares under CBI scanner

A number of online softwares, being used allegedly by travel agents to trick the Tatkal booking systems, have come under the scanner of the CBI during its probe against its techie who has developed a similar system, the agency sources said here today.During its probe against its own programmer, Ajay Garg, who had developed one such illicit software, the agency has noticed a large number of softwares which were easily available online for a price. These were being used to trick the railway ticketing system by speeding up the booking process and allowing multiple tickets, they said. The sources said ‘neo’ software developed by Garg is one among many such programmes available online, they said.”All such softwares are under scanner. We are examining them and may soon take action, if any illegality is found in their operations,” an official said.The sources said the softwares work on “auto fill” system where details of large number of ticket seekers are entered and kept ready even before Tatkal bookings open on the IRCTC website at 10 am for trains departing next day. They said these softwares speed up the PNR generating process, bypassing the IRCTC captcha and allowing login with multiple IDs allowing a large number of ticket bookings simultaneously on a single click of mouse. The softwares allow the users to fraudulently gain unauthorised access to computer network in contravention of rules and regulations, they said.Also readDay after CBI programmer held in tatkal ticket scam, Piyush Goyal calls for strengthened cyber security”Use of such software is illegal as per rules and regulations of the IRCTC and also under the Railways Act. It was also alleged that the accused was collecting money for the use of such software by certain booking agents and had amassed huge wealth from these activities,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said. The CBI had arrested its assistant programmer and his front, Anil Gupta, for developing and distributing the software to agents for a price, he had said.The ticket bookings under Tatkal quota open at 10 am for AC class and 11 AM for non-AC coaches for the trains departing next day. Under the quota, a fixed number of seats, in each coach, are sold at a premium by the railways to travellers who need tickets urgently. A common complaint of passengers is that by the time they enter details on the IRCTC website or complete booking process, seats under Tatkal quota gets full within minutes of start of the booking. Their bookings are either rejected or they get a waitlisted ticket that too at a very steep prices.Some travel agents offer to provide confirmed tickets under the quota by charging premium, over and above railways prices. The arrest of Garg and Gupta has exposed the alleged software trickery used by them to exploit the vulnerabilities of IRCTC ticket booking system, the sources said. Garg, a 35-year-old software engineer, had joined the CBI in 2012 through a selection process and was working as an assistant programmer. Earlier, he had served with the IRCTC, which handles ticketing system of the railways, between 2007 and 2011.

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Rationalist team spends night at West Bengal station listed as ‘haunted’ by Railways

A group of rationalists spent a winter night in the small obscure railway station in West Bengal’s Purulia district, which had been recorded as ‘haunted’ by the Railways, to bust the myth.The group found a few locals trying to scare them away from the station on Thursday night instead of any paranormal presence, a member of the rationalist group said today.Begunkodor station, located near the Ayodhya Hills and 50 km from Purulia town, had earned the distinction of being a ‘ghost station’ after 1967, the year its station master had reportedly died after seeing a white sari clad woman walking along the tracks in the night.The incident had caused passengers to desert the station and it had come to be known as ‘haunted’ in the Railways records.Begunkodor had been closed since then and was listed by Railways as one of its 10 ‘haunted’ stations in India.The station was reopened 42 long years later in 2009 by Mamata Banerjee during her tenure as the railways minister.Since then trains stopped at this obscure station and passengers used it only till 5 pm scared of encounters with the ghosts.A nine-member team of the rationalist organisation Paschim Banga Bigyan Manch, armed with torches, digital compasses and cameras, had camped at this station with police protection on Thursday night and busted the decades-old myth.Nayan Mukherjee, who led the team said, “We were at the Begunkodor station in Purulia district from 11 pm on Thursday night till the early morning hours the next day but there was no nocturnal activity.”He said the team did not see the ghost of a woman who is said to have committed suicide years ago or the apparition of the station master, who reportedly haunt the station. “We could only spot a snake in an adjacent well,” Mukherjee said.He said, the team had heard a peculiar noise from the darkness behind the station building deep in the night. “When we focussed the torch light on the surrounding bush at around 2 AM we saw four to five people, who appeared to be locals fleeing from the spot. We chased them for a while but they ran away.”The station was being touted by certain people for some time as a ‘ghost tourism’ spot to attract visitors. Some of the locals apparently scare them away with the noise and steal their belongings after they flee out of fear, he said.The digital compasses and cameras installed in the station compound by the team did not pick up any sign of paranormal activity, Mukherjee said.The Superintendent of Police of Purulia district Joy Biswas said the team had asked for police protection which was given to them.He said the police and the administration were aware that Begunkodor station was known as a ‘ghost station’ among the locals and had started night patrolling in the area recently. Efforts were also made to create awareness among the people over the public address systems.”I have asked the the superintendent of police to take necessary steps in the matter,” Purulia District Magistrate Aloke Prasad Roy said.

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Parliamentary panel concerned on cybercrime in Railways

The committee expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that despite having a Vigilance Directorate and a Centre for Railway Information System, the Railways were completely dependent on the CBI. Previously, the ministry had stated, "There is no infrastructure to deal with cybercrime. Cyber related crimes pertaining to Railways have only been found in the computerised reservation area. Cases involving outsiders are handed over to CBI."”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Saturday 30 December 2017 2:29 ISTMust readMumbai’s Kamala Mills Fire | When midnight birthday bash turned into a funeral Mumbai Fire | ‘Don’t know how I got out alive,’ survivor recalls inferno horror<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>A parliamentary panel on Friday expressed serious concern over the revelation that the Ministry of Railways was unable to tackle cybercrime seriously and has been relying on CBI to probe incidents. To that end, the Railway Convention Committee urged the ministry to “seriously consider inducting persons with ample experience in handling cybercrime”.The committee expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that despite having a Vigilance Directorate and a Centre for Railway Information System, the Railways were completely dependent on the CBI. Previously, the ministry had stated, “There is no infrastructure to deal with cybercrime. Cyber related crimes pertaining to Railways have only been found in the computerised reservation area. Cases involving outsiders are handed over to CBI.”

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Parliament panel raises concerns over lack of infra in railways to deal with cybercrimes

A parliamentary panel has expressed serious concern over lack of infrastructure in the railways’ vigilance directorate to deal with cybercrimes, days after the CBI busted a ticketing scam in the national transporter.The Railway Convention Committee that submitted its report in Parliament today on vigilance in Indian Railways said they were not satisfied that the ministry’s vigilance directorate was foolproof as far as dealing with cybercrimes was concerned. “When there is no requisite infrastructure or expertise available with the railways to effectively deal with cybercrime and software manipulation, the e-tendering and e- auction system introduced by the ministry cannot be claimed to be foolproof,” the committee has said, raising doubts over the security of all e-platforms used by the railways.The committee has urged the ministry to induct persons with “ample experience” in handling cybercrimes, either through deputation or permanent absorption, so as to eliminate any scope of “manipulation of the system by vested interests”.The parliamentary panel, chaired by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab has 12 members from Lok Sabha and and six from Rajya Sabha.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested its software programmer for developing an illicit software to subvert the railways Tatkal reservation system, allowing hundreds of tickets to be booked in one go.

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CBI hunts for builders who got government land

Days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered two separate cases probing a land scam involving more than 300 acres of land in Majiwade village, Thane, the agency will now check records of 64 plots to identify the builders who were granted these lands by government bodies.CBI says unknown officials from M/s Provident Investment Company Limited (PICL), Finance Department of Madhya Pradesh and Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) connived with various unknown builders and private individuals to usurp the land.The land is worth thousands of crores and belongs to the Government of India (GoI). Earlier in the month, the CBI had registered two FIRs to probe the alleged transfer and sale of the land by PICL and Madhya Pradesh government to private builders.The matter stretches back to 1925 and involves the erstwhile princely state of Gwalior and textile baron Mathuradas Gokuldas.”On September 3, 1925, Mathuradas Gokuldas, a Hindu-Undivided Family, mortgaged plots amounting to 314 acres at Yeoor Revenue Village and Majiwada Village of Thane to the erstwhile state of Gwalior Darbar. The deed of indenture was again executed in 1938 and the Gwalior Darbar was represented by its Finance Minister and PICL, which transferred and assigned the mortgage to PICL. By then, PICL was looking after the financial investment portfolio of the erstwhile princely state,” says a CBI official.The loan given to Gokuldas was from the funds of the Gwalior State Railways, which after independence, merged with Indian Railways. Under Federal Financial Integration, all properties mortgaged by Gokuldas were transferred to the Central Government. “After 1947, PICL became the PSU undertaking of the Madhya Pradesh government and was assigned the management of mortgaged properties located in Bombay, Thane and Pune on behalf of GoI,” said the officer.As per the records of Talathi, the ownership of the 64 plots is still with GoI. “They were either given on long lease or sold to unknown builders,” said the CBI officer. “NOC for development was given by the said government bodies. We are now checking all land records from TMC to ascertain which builders were provided these lands.”In 2012, Mumbai High Court directed the CBI to probe into the matter while hearing a case pertaining to the destruction of records of prime properties in Mumbai. After five years of investigation, CBI filed cases under sections of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption against the unidentified officials of all the three bodies and unidentified builders.The agency will also register another case about Gokuldas’ land in Pune was sold to private builders.

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CBI officer held for illicit Tatkal software scam

The CBI busted a railway ticketing racket on Wednesday by arresting one of its own programmers. The scam impacted lakhs of citizens across the country as many failed to get confirmed tickets, especially tatkal ones, because of it. It also exposes the vulnerability of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) software.Ajay Garg, an assistant programmer with the CBI since 2012, was arrested from Delhi. His associate Anil Kumar Gupta was nabbed from Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur and is being brought to Delhi on transit remand.The agency has registered a case of criminal conspiracy under Sections of the Information Technology Act for making an illegal railway ticketing software. The accused had developed a tatkal (ticketing at short notice) software with distributor Gupta. They sold the software to tour and travel operators across the country.Travel operators using this software booked tickets in advance and created a shortage.Garg received payments through Bitcoin and hawala routes. Before joining the CBI, he worked as a programmer with the IRCTC from 2007 to 2011, and knew the vulnerabilities of the ticketing software of the Railways. Garg knew that the software used by the Railways allowed him to book hundreds of tickets in the morning. He used 800 to 1,000 customer IDs at one go.The CBI has also identified 10 travel agents who were using this software. They include three of Mumbai and seven of Jaunpur.Garg was using proxy and foreign servers to remove any trail.It was also alleged that Garg was collecting money for the use of the software by certain booking agents and had amassed huge wealth. It was also revealed that Gupta on behalf of Garg was allegedly receiving money from dealers for the use of the software through Bitcoin and hawala networks.Searches were conducted at 14 places, including Delhi, Mumbai and Jaunpur, which resulted in recoveries of Rs 89.42 lakh, gold jewellery valued at Rs 61.29 lakh, 15 laptops, 15 hard disks, 52 mobile phones, 24 SIM cards, 10 notebooks, 6 routers, 4 dongles, 19 pen drives and other incriminating material from the premises of the accused and others.

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Travelling from Borivili to Churchgate in a Mumbai local has never been cooler

The silver-blue exterior of the country’s first AC local train was gleaming as it arrived at Borivili station’s platform 9 at around 10.10am on Monday. On the inside, it is furnished with the same blue and grey polycarbonate seats found in the second class compartments of a regular local which was disappointing considering I expected better after paying Rs 165 for a one-way journey. Fortunately, there was ample place to sit despite it being the maiden journey as the ticket collector asked travellers without a ticket to alight before the train finally departed right on time.This being the first AC local train, I was keen on walking down the vestibule coaches from end to end and experience the frenzy. While the Railways have provided separate coaches for women and reserved seats for physically challenged passengers and senior citizens, one tends to miss the difference as you walk into the coaches. The Western Railways may have to better demarcate the coaches reserved for women, like in the Metro.The luggage racks, although sturdy, are too low. Most importantly, the coaches of the AC local need CCTV cameras which the administration has promised to install soon.The air conditioning was pleasant and the fans complimented the cooling. However, the far ends of the coaches, particularly near the motor coach, it seemed a bit warm. Each coach is equipped with two fire extinguishers, a talk back system with instructions to ensure the safety of passengers, notices regarding pulling of chain, and a list of dos and don’ts.

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Rayalaseema Express derails in Telangana, passengers safe

The Rayalaseema Express train derailed near Sirnapally in Nizamabad district on Saturday morning.All the passengers were reported to be safe and unhurt in the accident.Central South Zone Railways spokesperson Uma Shankar told ANI, “Rayalaseema express was derailed near Sirnapally. All the passengers are safely moved to Nizamabad station.””In between Uppalvai and Sirnapalli stations on Secunderabad – Mudkhed section, two wheels of a coach of Tr. No. 12793 Tirupati – Nizamabad Express slipped the track at around 08.05 hrs today. Acting swiftly, railway authorities transshipped passengers of the train to their destination,” Shankar informed.Due to the derailment, the train traffic on the section was affected for few hours.The spokesperson said the section is expected to be restored for normal train services by afternoon.

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Govt mulls order for safety of newspaper vendors

The government would soon direct all the municipal corporations to ensure that newspaper vendors in their cities are protected. The government would hold a meeting within a fortnight for sorting out problems of newspaper vendors in the state.Through a call attention motion in the state Assembly on Wednesday, BJP’s Ashish Shelar raised the issue of newspaper vendors’ protection. Replying to the same Minister of State for Home Dr Ranjeet Patil said that he would hold a meeting with all the stakeholders in the next fifteen days and sort out their issues.Shelar said that there are 15,000 newspaper vendors and three thousand stalls in the Thane and Mumbai Metropolitan region. He also said that 1.5 lakh families are dependent on this occupation but vendors have to face action by the local bodies as well as the Railways since some of them carry out their business on Railway premises.Shelar pointed out that during a meeting with Minister for Labor Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar, it was decided that a welfare board for newspaper vendors would be set up and said that it should be done immediately.Patil informed the House that Shelar had met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with a delegation of newspaper vendors on October 24, 2017 and the Chief Minister had directed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in this regard.Patil informed that all the municipal corporations would be directed to ensure protection and safety of newspaper vendors. He said that while finalizing hawkers’ zones in the next two months, a separate provision for newspaper vendors would be made.HELPING HANDShelar demanded that whenever there is action against hawkers, newspaper vendors need to be spared from it. MLAs Sanjay Kelkar and Mangal Prabhat Lodha also raised the issue.

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NWR says ‘Hello happiness’ to staff

NWR has decided to embrace “Hello Happiness” for the betterment of the employees and to improve the working conditions. To do this, amongst many other steps, NWR’s General Manager TP Singh has given the suggestion which is for family accommodation at desert places on lines of the army, which is under consideration , in NWR cash awards are already being given to the employees, informed the sources.Sources informed that Singh who was speaking at a seminar titled “Sankalp, Samanvit aur Samvad” which was organised by Ministry of Railways, held at New Delhi where he gave several suggestions for the betterment of employees of railways.Notably, large number of railway employees work at places which are away from their homes. For example, if a person is posted at Munabao, children are not getting any place to study, so he is put to inconvenience.As such Singh suggested that at big places, they get family accommodation informed the sources. He also said that the efforts are also being made to assign the jobs to the people as per their aptitude. Sources informed that the whole idea is to make the staff happy.INCENTIVESSingh also spoke about the giving incentives tot he employees to awards good performance. .In NWR cash awards are already being given to the employees.

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South Central Railway proposes recreational tour to Singapore, Malaysia for its lowest-paid staff; to bear 75% expenses

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, non-gazetted employees of Secunderabad-based South Central Railways will be taken on a foreign trip on government expense purely for recreation purposes, a report said today. The South Central Railways (SCR) has proposed a six-day “recreation tour” of Singapore and Malaysia for non-gazetted serving employees, including gangmen and trackmen. Employees with lowest-pay level and those approaching retirement will be given preference for the tour, a circular said. Also read9 lakh seniors give up ticket subsidy in 3 months, Railways saves Rs 40 croreWhile the employees have been asked to pay 25% or Rs 15,000 via demand draft, the remaining 75% expense will come from the Staff Benefit Fund, a report in The Indian Express said. The zonal railway has tied up with a private tour operator selected for being the lowest bidder among three vendors for the tour. The total package is for around Rs 59,000 including airfare, hotel stay and entry fee to Universal Studios and the like, the report said. Also readShort-staffed Rlys extends age limit for re-engagement to 65The Staff Benefit Fund is created from railway coffers every year and given to all zones for philanthropical purposes but does not extend to a pleasure trip in a foreign land, the daily quotes sources as saying. The SCR gets Rs 800 per employee towards creation of this fund from the Railway Ministry through Budget for its estimated 80,000 employees. The ministry has alloted Rs 100 crore for the purpose which is distributed among all the zones. There are strict rules that govern the Staff Benefit Fund and for what purposes they can be used. “There is no provision of a foreign recreation tour in staff benefit fund. It is not done and can’t be done,” said Shiv Gopal Mishra, head of All Indian Railwaymen’s Federation, a union of Indian Railways employees.They are usually used for scholarships of wards of lower-rank employees, women empowerment activities including seminar, camps, training programmes and gender sensitization camps, recreation other than sports, recreational facilities at institutes and clubs among other purposes.

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Watch: Discussions on to provide CCTV on all trains across India, says Piyush Goyal

On Saturday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Railway is considering installing CCTVs and providing internet connectivity on all trains across India.He said: “We will take 2018 as a year where we collectively fight against atrocities against women and children, especially human trafficking. We will do this across all the railways.”He added: “As far as security is concerned, we are all thoughtful about it. We are thinking of providing internet connectivity and CCTV on trains. Discussions are on to provide CCTV on all trains across India.”Earlier, he had said the Railways Ministry will float a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to manage the entire electrification work of railways network and arrange funding for it, an official said today.Also readTicket prices for trains like Shatabdi, Rajdhani may go down, says Railway minister Piyush Goyal”As far as funding for electrification is concerned, we are looking at funding through an SPV and getting that SPV to run the entire electrification of Railways,” a top official in the Railways Ministry said today.The SPV will be tasked to look after the whole electrification project of the Railways. It will be own and manage those assets, the official said.Also readIndian Railways to use GPS-enabled devices to fight fog this season”The ministry is still working to float this SPV,” the official said.Earlier in September, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had said that his ministry is exploring ways to speed up the electrification process so as to cut down about Rs 16,000 crore expense on diesel.Also readBMC, Central Railway seek IIT aid to check track-flooding”We are giving a relook to the ways of speeding up the electrification process” of rail lines across the country. The ministry is consulting all the people who are involved in the electrification process,” Goyal had said.With inputs from PTI and ANI

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Cabinet approves proposal to restructure Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL)

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Second Financial Restructuring proposal of Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL), a CPSE under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways (MoR).The conversion of Non-Cumulative Redeemable Preference Shares (RPS), amounting to Rs. 4,079.51 crore, held by President of India through Ministry of Railways, into Compulsorily Convertible Non-Cumulative Preference Shares (CCPS), has been approved. This will shore up the net worth of the Company after implementation of the new accounting standard IND AS.Implementation Strategy and targets:KRCL will have to present the previous year’s Balance Sheet figures restated as per IND-AS, as on 31st March 2016 and those at the opening of the business, ie, as on 1st April 2015. The conversion of the Non-cumulative Redeemable Preference Shares (RPS) into Compulsorily Convertible non-cumulative Preference Shares (CCPS) w.e.f. 31st March 2015 will make KRCL’s net worth positive.Major Impact:Net worth of KRCL will remain positive. A positive Net Worth for the KRCL is a sine qua non for the purpose of raising funds from the market at viable rate of interest, obtaining better credit rating from rating agency, qualify for bidding for new contracts and to take up various sanctioned projects on Konkan Railway route etcKRCL will not be categorized as a Sick Company as per DPE guidelines.Background:As per notification from Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) from the financial year 2016-17 onward, companies having net worth of Rs.500 crore or above as on 31st March, 2014, will have to adopt IND-AS (Indian Accounting Standards i.e. new Accounting Standards introduced on the basis of IFRS) in the preparation and compilation of Accounts. As per IND AS, the Non-Cumulative Redeemable Preference Shares are treated as “Compounded Financial Instruments” and disclosed in two components – other equity and financial liability. The liability component is equal to the present value of the redemption amount on the date of the issue, considering the discount rate at the date of the issue of the preference shares. The other equity represents the component equal to the total redeemable amount of the preference shares less liability component.Thus, a part, of Non-Cumulative Redeemable Preference Share issued to President of India (through MoR) by KRCL will have to be shown as ‘Outside Liability’1 instead of ‘Equity Capital’ in the Balance Sheet of KRCL and the Net Worth of KRCL will turn negative.A negative net worth of KRCL will result in:(i) poor credit rating of KRCL.(ii) difficulty in raising funds from market by KRCL,(iii) difficulty in bidding for new contracts by KRCL and(iv) KRCL will be categorised as ‘sick company’ as per DPE guidelines.In view of the above, KRCL had requested to convert the existing preference shares held in the name of President of India (through MoR) into Compulsorily Convertible non-cumulative Preference Shares (CCPS) w.e.f. 31st March 2015, as CCPS can be considered as share capital under IND AS.

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Railways goes solar to power city’s commute on local trains

The Railways invariably warn commuters to not travel on rooftop of trains as the live overhead wires supply 25,000 volts for the locomotives to run. Besides these live wires, roofs over the platforms would now become a medium of electricity as the authorities are placing solar panels on them. The Indian Railways is aiming to save electricity bills to the tune of Rs 41,000 crore between 2015 and 2025 under the ‘Mission 41K’ scheme.These solar panels will have an installed capacity of 4,750kW or 4.7Mw of power. This amount of electricity is equivalent to the power used by floodlights at Wankhede stadium. The Western Railway (WR) has identified 23 locations on its Churchgate-Virar route, which also includes railway stations, for these panels. Sources in WR said there are seven railway stations (Mumbai Central, Lower Parel, Mahim, Khar Road, Andheri, Ram Mandir and Borivli) where solar panels would be fitted on the cover over platforms. The rest of the places include car sheds, rail administration and station buildings, workshops and yards.Of the total 4,750kW electricity expected to be generated, the solar panels at railway stations will generate 2,185kW and the rest would be from the other structures mentioned above. “The work of completing installation of solar panels at some of these locations is in progress. At Mumbai Central, panels have been installed on the roof of the passenger reservation system building,” said a WR official.It takes around 450-500Mw of electricity for running 240 rakes on both Western and Central Railway together in the city. “By installing solar panels, we expect to save around Rs 90,000 each day,” said a senior WR official.The WR intends to use solar power to electrify tube lights, fans, lighting at food stalls, passenger announcement systems and other ancillaries at the station premises. Those solar panels fitted at station buildings and car sheds will help the railways to power the lights, fans, air-conditioners and other electric components found in a building.

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Mumbai fog delays Central Railway services; commuters stage rail roko at Vasinad station

Commuters staged a rail roko at Vasind, a railway station on the outskirts of Mumbai that falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Railways. Vasind is on the Mumbai-CST to Kasara route and is the station before Asangaon.At 7 am on Saturday, angry commuters staged the protests over services getting delayed for over 45 minutes. The railway police managed to disperse the crowd by 8.15am or so and rail traffic resumed by 8.22am.The administration has blamed the dense fog for the delays. Sources said that the fog was so thick that visibility was less than 100 meters for the motormen manuerving these 270 meter long local trains.Also readSmog grips Mumbai; air quality reaches hazardous levels”If technical failures weren’t enough to hurt train services, now natural causes like fog are causing problems in train running. But in the end it is the common man who is suffering,” said Lata Argade, a resident of Dombivali.Since early morning when the trains first resumed, trains were running at slow speeds. People complained that between 6-7am barely two or three locals went by which were crowded as they were coming from Asangaon or Kasara stations. Moreover the commuters claimed that long distance trains were given first precedence over local trains.

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Prime Minister’s Office help sought for Mumbai Metro execution roadblocks

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) executing several Metro projects in the city has sought help from Prime Minister’s office (PMO) for tackling several issues involving land acquisition and getting clearances from several state and central government agencies for construction of Metro corridors in the city.According to MMRDA, PMO’s ‘pragati portal’ monitors the Metro projects in the city and regular assistance is sought from the PMO for clearances from Central government agencies like Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Defence for acquiring their land for Metro projects.Pravin Darade, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, said, “We seek assistance from PMO where central government agencies are involved. At several stretches we either require land from the Defence Ministry or require no objection certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Railway, as our Metro alignment is going above railway tracks at several locations. In this case, seeking assistance from PMO helps in getting approvals smoothly.”A senior MMRDA official, said, “We may also seek assistance from the PMO regarding roadblocks for procuring loan from international banks. We want the 75 per cent of the Metro coaches to be manufactured in India under ‘Make In India’ but the banks that are going to finance the Metro projects have reservations about it.”The MMRDA official, added, “In this case, we will seek assistance from PMO who will certainly intervene along with the Union Ministry of Finance for having banks agree with having 75 per cent coaches made in India.”
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Come Jan, more rakes to chug on city’s local lines

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Newer trains can be expected by Mumbaikars starting January next year. Orders have been placed for getting more trains that would ply both on Central and Western Railways. This was one of the subjects which were discussed at the meeting between Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and railway officers when he visited Mumbai on November 27.To begin with, the Central Railway (CR) will get 20 new Bombardier rakes in phases, which is already being manufactured. “Orders have already been placed and we shall start getting them from January 2018. Once they arrive, they will be available for plying and would replace the existing old lot of rakes that are part of our fleet,” said a senior CR official. They are getting the new rakes for the purpose of operating on the Rs 1,700 crore Seawoods-Uran rail line.The CR has 14 old rakes of BHEL make which are always a cause of concern for the authorities as these incur technical failures frequently.

Piyush Goel green signals Vasundhara Raje plea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Railway minister Piyush Goel on Friday waived off haulage charges on all royal trains, including the Palace of Wheels. The move came during chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s meeting with the minister in New Delhi.The decision will lower the operative cost and the fare and directly benefit the passengers. Meanwhile, Raje also discussed the coal crisis with Goel which was deepened in October around Diwali.The state governments, including Rajasthan, that operate luxury trains and the Indian Railways were at loggerheads over haulage charges imposed on such trains, citing high operative cost. During the meeting, the minister said: “In future, no haulage charges will be applicable by the Indian Railways on royal trains. Also the ministry will help Rajasthan to operate new trains.”According to a statement released by the government, the CM had requested the minister to give relaxation in recovery of hauling charge for Royal Rajasthan Wheels train, operation of Palace on Wheels as a heritage train and not to uproot 70km old heritage railway track between Dholpur- Sarmathpura while laying a parallel broad-gauge line.The severe power crisis happened due to shortage of coal in Rajasthan in October was also part of the discussion between Goel and Raje. The CM asked the minister to increase railway racks so coal in adequate amount could be supplied to the power projects in Rajasthan. “This will be helpful to provide power supply 24/7 to people and farmers will get power without disruption for irrigation,” Raje said.Meanwhile the minister appreciated Raje for adoption UDAY scheme to overcome power companies from losses.OPIUM POLICYThanking union finance minister Arun Jaitely for reduction of GST on marbles, granite and Kota Stone, the CM requested him to change ‘Centre Opium policy’ and sanction a processing unit for opium in Rajasthan. In her proposal Raje explained that opium policy 2017-18 mandates 56kg opium harvesting per hectare average while the average of harvesting hangs between 49 and 52kg average in Dholpur and Jhalawar. She sought amendment in these norms.

Indian Railways takes steps to identify absentee workers, Mazdoor unions resent

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A government job is said to be cushy as apart from salaries, perks, and regular bonus; they have 7-8hours work shifts or even less. However, on November 13, the Railway Board in Delhi ensured that the 14-lakh staff working for the Indian Railways come out of their comfort zone. For the first time, supervisors who head departments will be issuing certificates stating that an employee was present at work.’All employees in control of staff should give a certificate that they do not have any employee on their rolls who do not physically exist,’ states a circular issued by the Railway Board to all General Managers across Indian Railways.The circular issued by the Member (Staff) DK Gayen – who heads the Human Resources department for the whole of Indian Railways – also stated that random surprise checks should be conducted by inspectors of Personnel department and respective department. It has also asked for reviewing and listing names of unauthorised absentees in each department and unit. A copy of this is with DNA.The officers and supervisors approving the muster role will also have to give a certificate that all the staff who are getting their salaries where physically present on duty during the period. Not just this, every department will review the attendance sheet and weed out employees whose presence is based on mere proxy marking on the muster. Sources said that the Chairman of Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani when he assumed charge, had told that steps would be taken to monitor the performance of people.This is an important step as the coach production units, workshops, and car sheds where rakes are maintained and upgraded comprise of huge working staff. With lesser people actually on the ground for maintenance and upkeep of rail assets; the quality of coaches, basic amenities inside like seats, toilet blocks, fans and linen provided to passengers gets ignored.”These staffs are our eyes and ears. If they aren’t present then it is bound to have severe repercussions even in areas that come under safety category,” said a senior railway official.There are instances where people come to work in the morning, sign muster and leave after a couple of hours either for personal work or for the affiliated rail unions. The end result is that the number of people needed to ensure quality work be it in production and upkeep of rail tracks, coaches, cables and signaling systems is insufficient.This circular is also a jolt to the railway unions who have been playing an active role in shaping the Indian Railways. The unions at these places of work result in employees not giving the desired time and effort. The administration will be monitoring people to see if they are skipping work to balance out time for these registered unions. In fact, recently the General Manager of Western Railway AK Gupta had made a surprise check in his own office building at Churchgate where he caught women staff from another department, chit chatting even after lunch hours. Praveen Bajpai, general secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: The staff knows the responsibilities and job well. There is no need for anyone to monitor. Everyday railway men open ticket booking windows, loco pilots and guards run trains, gangmen maintain tracks and other employees do their work; without anyone from administration telling them. Rather the Railway administration should concentrate on filling up over 2.5 lakh vacant posts which are causing a burden on other rail employees.Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: “This circular has asked to take action against those who go on unauthorised leaves of more than 21 days. It is not as if the staff sign on the muster and leave as there is a lot of work and the administration isn’t filling up posts which results in undue pressue”.

Mumbai Central station skywalk awaits Western Railway nod

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the need for better crowd management at and around railway stations has been in focus since the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station that saw 23 persons die, a skywalk proposed outside Mumbai Central railway station is languishing on paper as a No Objection Certificate is awaited for the project from Western Railway.BMC’s D ward in 2016 had proposed a skywalk from Sane Guruji Marg directly connecting the two railway foot-overbridges (FOB) of Mumbai Central railway station. Around 90m long, the skywalk would have save commuters the trouble of crossing the road, giving them direct access to the railway platform. However, citing feasibility issues, the Western Railway (WR) has not sanctioned the No Objection Certificate.Assistant Municipal Commissioner of D-Ward, Vishwas Mote said, “In the past six months, there has been written communication with the Railways, but due to feasibility issues cited by them, the project didn’t take off. The skywalk will help in crowd management outside Mumbai Central railway station. The skywalk was proposed under a comprehensive traffic management project outside the station”.Another civic officer added, “The Western Railway asked for a ticket counter and public toilet on the skywalk which was not part of our project. The proposal has not been scrapped, but has been halted. The skywalk will help reduce traffic snarls outside Mumbai Central railway station. Now all commuters’ cross the road at Sane Guruji Marg, which obstructs road traffic. The skywalk will allow commuters to directly join the railway FOB and allow smooth flow of vehicular traffic outside the station”.Commenting on the skywalk proposal, WR spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar said, “I am not aware of this proposal. I will have to check with the concerned department what the reasons are if the proposal is not given the nob by the WR”.According to BMC’s presentation, which DNA has been able to access, Mumbai Central railway station has around 7,500 pedestrians from 7 to 10 am, while it has 10,500 pedestrians from 5.30 to 9pm.BMC already has the provision of Rs 50 lakh in its 2014-15 budget set aside for the proposed skywalk.NEWS IN NUMBERSAccording to BMC’s presentation, which DNA has been able to access, Mumbai Central railway station has around 7,500 pedestrians from 7 to 10 am, while it has 10,500 pedestrians from 5.30 to 9pm. BMC already has the provision of Rs 50 lakh in its 2014-15 budget set aside for the proposed skywalk.

Railways set to achieve track renewal target this year: Piyush Goyal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For ensuring the safety of passengers, Indian Railways is diverting new tracks to replace the old ones instead of just laying down new lines.Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said ensuring safety and security of passengers was top priority of the government. “New tracks are being diverted for track renewal. This government is so committed to the task at hand that there are no budget constraints. There is no limit of money that Railways can spend on passenger safety,” Goyal said.While the move is significant against the backdrop of several train derailments in the recent past, Goyal also said that after a long time 2017-18 would be the first year when Railways would be able to achieve track renewal targets. “After many many years this will the first time that Railways will achieve track renewal target set at the begining of the year,” the minister said.Recently, Railways had floated a global tender for procuring 7 lakh metric tonnes of rails for track renewal.Moreover, sources in the ministry said that in order to uplift passenger experience, the national carrier was in the process of procuring and installing one lakh television screens at stations across the country.Sources also added that apart from this, to add to passenger comfort the railways would be installing several lakhs more chairs at the top 1,000 or 1,500 railways stations where footfall was highest.Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to all MPs to set aside a portion of their MPLADS funds for providing better amenities at stations under their constituencies.

Slum dwellers return to Garib Nagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Their shanties may have been demolished by the BMC in the last week of October but the slum dwellers of Garib Nagar in Bandra east have returned; cooking and sleeping beneath tarpaulin sheets. The civic body had demolished nearly 400 shanties in the slum in order to secure the Tansa Pipeline following orders from the High Court.Halim Khan, the local Shiv Sena corporator supporting the slum dwellers, said, “The BMC had issued notices to 326 shanties but demolished an additional 124. A fire broke out which affected more shanties. The residents are adversely affected and forced to come back as they have no other option,” said Khan, who claims that he is distributing food to more than 1,100 of the affected families daily with the help of locals.According to Khan, 35 slum dwellers are eligible for alternate accommodation and 200 more will be eligible once the paperwork is in place. “Even the eligible slum dwellers aren’t being given alternative accommodation. When they use toilet facilities at the nearby station, they are being heavily fined by the Railways,” said Khan.The Railways have enhanced security in the area and started proceedings to get rid of encroachment on its land adjoining the station. Ravinder Bhakar, CPRO, Western Railway, said, “The station is for commuters and the facilities are for people with valid tickets.”Despite repeated attempts, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta and local ward officer Alka Sasane were not available for comment.

Fed up with poor infra, Central Railway commuters threaten protest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tired of the Railways’ lackadaisical efforts to improve infrastructure on the Central Railway (CR) line, commuters have decided to take the matter into their own hands. The commuter associations on the Kalyan-Karjat/ Kasara belt have threatened to protest if CR fails to improve the infrastructure.Apart from them, associations from the Thane-Kalyan belt will also protest on November 13 if CR authorities don’t give a written assurance.To begin with, in the last two days the Locals and Passenger association on the Kalyan-Kasara stretch protested at Vasind station against the CR authorities for delay in implementing the third line between Kalyan and Kasara. The Kalyan-Kasara third line project, which is out of Metropolitan Transportation Project’s list, received only Rs 20 crore in this year’s rail budget. The state government had sought Rs 200 crore for the same.Apart from this, commuters also want two more additional stations of Umbarmali and Taanset to come up. These stations are supposed to bring more respite to locals who struggle during peak hours.”The CR authorities are delaying the third rail line which is very important. Moreover, despite funds of Rs 9 crore or so has been allotted, work has not begun at the two new stations,” said Rajesh Gangav, member, Kalyan-Kasara-Karjat Passenger Association.The association has also demanded new FOBs at Titwala, Khadavali, Vasind, Asangaon, Atgaon and Kasara to be built. Sources in CR said that they are already working on details to build more FOBs at these stations apart from raising the height of platforms and creating home platform wherever possible.The associations have threatened a protest at Thane on November 13 if CR authorities do not provide written assurance that they will build FOB at Retibunder, which is between Kalwa and Mumbra. “This demand is going on for the last four to five years now,” said Siddhesh Desai, vice president, Mumbai Railway Pravasi Sangh.RAILWAY’S APATHYCommuter associations on the Kalyan-Kasara stretch have protested at Vasind station for delay in implementing the third line project between Kalyan and Kasara.
The Kalyan-Kasara third line project received only Rs 20 crore in this year’s rail budget. The state government had sought Rs 200 crore for it.

Bridge security: Parl panel to summon Railways’ top officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indicating its seriousness towards the issue of railway bridge safety, a parliamentary panel has asked top railway officials to appear before it. This is the second time the railway officials have been summoned in the past fortnight.The parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways, headed by Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, has called the representatives of the Ministry of Railways to hear them on issues ranging from safety measures in railway operations to maintenance of bridges of foot over bridges that fall under the purview of the Railways.The committee, which first met on October 12, took up the issue as the matter of railway bridge security raised concerns in wake of the incident in Mumbai where 23 people were killed in a stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station. A few days later, a portion of a foot over bridge at Charni Road station in the city left two people injured.The panel first took up the issue on November 6 in which top officials of railway board were grilled about the security measures being taken by the department about railway bridges and their current status across the country.As a number of queries raised by members could not be answered on sport, the panel has again summoned the railway officials before it on November 20.Top Railway Board officials will brief the panel about both the issues—the safety measures undertaken by the department with regard to railway operations and also the maintenance of railway bridges.The parliamentary panel had in its earlier meeting also expressed its concern over the spate of train derailment incidents in the past few months.

Railways’ new project to boost employee productivity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In light of constant bad publicity on account of derailments, accidents, poor services and inefficiency of its employees, the Indian Railway has decided to go in for an image makeover by increasing the productivity and efficiency of its employees.Under Project Saksham, over the next one year, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area.In a recent letter to all the Zonal General Managers, Chairman Railway Board (CRB) Ashwani Lohani noted that there is a need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their efficiency.”Please ensure that such priority training need is quickly identified for each category of employees based on the need of your zone. Identification of training needs and formulation of planned training calender altijd be completed by December 31, 2017, ensuring that each employee is imparted training,” said Lohani.The training will be a five-day-on-the-job or classroom training in Rilway Training Centres, depending on the nature of their employment.Instructing the general managers to ensure that the reporting managers of all employees are actively involved in the training processes, Lohani has asked them to focus on “making a difference” on the job.”The training must be completed within 9 months,” wrote Lohani asking the general managers to personally monitor the completion of the plans and their progress by devising metrics to monitor the impact of the project Saksham.Project sakshamUnder Project Saksham, over the next one year, all employees of the Indian Railways in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their area of work

Railways on drive to remove anti-social elements

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways are in the process of identifying stations where drug peddlars and addicts are often seen. On the Western Railway, they have received complaints from locals of these unwanted elements outside Grant Road station. Officials said that they are posting RPF staff to get rid of this menace. On the Central Railway, Masjid-CSMT is known for this menace.The WR officials said that during the multi disciplinary visits; the teams saw the presence of these anti- social elements who are threat to commuters. This is the reason the decision has been taken to evict these beggars, drug peddlers and other anti-social elements from Grant Road station premises. These people sit right outside platform 4 – where trains to Churchgate arrive – especially in the evenings.There is an old dilapidated railway yard right next to this platform, which officials state these people use to escape onto the road outside. “We have asked the RPF to monitor the stations where the elements are found and get rid of them,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.There is, at Grant Road station, a spot that is supported by six pillars as an extension to the station premises, with a ticket booking office next to this concourse where commuters are seen. Sources said that there is a proposal to shift the stalls inside the station present on the platform onto this concourse so that it doesn’t get encroached upon by anti-social elements.The BMC has already removed the beggars and as per the plans, No Hawking Zone has been created there. Sources said that there is an abandoned structure near the FOB on the same platform that too needs to be removed. The RPF officers claim that they are posting their staff at stations where the issue of anto social elements and hawkers have arise.On the Central Railway there are anti social elements that are seen between CSMT and Masjid stations. Sources agree that this stretch is well-known for these anti-social elements who operate despite action is taken from time to time. There is a proposal to remove the hawkers from both Churchgate and CSMT stations which are like hub for these hawkers.These steps are being taken to create more space on railway premises and on the outside so that people can walk freely. Over the past few days there have been demolition drives across various stations and its periphery. These critical actions taken by the government authorities is the outcome of the stampede at Elphinstone Road where 23 people lost their lives on September 29.

Open-cut method for culverts to affect CR services

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the Railways and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation attempt to solve problems created due to water logging on railway tracks in the monsoon, especially between Sion and Kurla, the BMC has now found a solution to the problem. However, this may affect central railway commuters largely as they may have to brace for cancellations and blocks.Apart from Sion and Kurla, storm water drains or culverts at Currey Road, Chichpokli and Mulund will have to be widened by the open-cut method. “It is the only method we could finalise to widen railway culverts as the usual engineering methods cannot materialise on these stretches. Commuters may be affected due to this work,” a senior civic official told DNA.Around two years ago, the BMC sent 29 proposals to Railways for widening and maintenance of culverts, for which the corporation has already paid money to the Railways. “However, railway officials found technical difficulties for drains augmentation and the proposals were languishing,” said Chief Engineer VH Khandkar of BMC storm water drains department.”But after joint meetings and visits, it was finalised that for six culverts, of which three fall in Sion-Kurla, and others in Currey Road, Chinchpokli and Mulund, the open-cut method will be used. It needs open excavation and is time-consuming, but drains need to be augmented irrespective of methods,” Khandkar added.Meanwhile, Divisional Railway manager of Central Railway SK Jain said, “We have finalised 15 locations on priority basis where we plan to complete the work before next monsoon. For these six culverts, we are figuring out ways to minimise disruptions in railway services. Our engineers are already in talks with civic engineers for the same.”DELAY AHEADApart from Sion and Kurla, storm water drains or culverts at Currey Road, Chichpokli and Mulund will have to be widened by the open-cut method. Commuters are likely to be affected.

Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system for rail employees by January 31

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cracking the whip on latecomers, the railway ministry has said it will install Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system across its zones and divisions by January 31 next year.The railway board issued a letter in this regard to all zones on November 3. According to the order, the biometric attendance system would be first implemented in the offices of all divisions, zones, Metro Rail Kolkata, railways workshop, factories and production units by November 30. “The plan is to put a check on the officials arriving late or not coming to work at all,” a senior rail official told PTI.”Once the Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system is installed across the railway zones and divisions by January 31, 2018, this problem can be addressed,” the official added. In the second phase, it will be implemented in all the offices of Railways, including public undertakings, attached and subordinate offices by January 31, 2018. Currently, the system is already in place in the railway board and few zonal headquarters. The letter from the board also states the biometric system should be integrated and implemented in such a way that it can be monitored by the divisional railway manager’s office.It has also instructed that CCTV cameras be provided with the biometric machine.

MNS chief meets Fadnavis over illegal hawking issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid his party’s confrontation with the Congress over illegal hawking in the city, MNS chief Raj Thackeray met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday.The meeting comes after the Congress and MNS workers clashed over a morcha organised by the former at Dadar in support of hawkers on Wednesday.After the one-and-half-hour-long meeting, MNS leaders said Raj, who was accompanied by son Amit and party functionaries Bala Nandgaonkar, Shirish Sawant and Abhijit Panse, had not discussed the hawking issue. However, an MNS leader said the two had met one-on-one after the meeting.Nandgaonkar said they had raised the issue of redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings which had been constructed on the collector’s land in Kalyan and Dombivli, and the need for Maharashtra to have its own “start-up” policy which will create a favourable investment climate for young entrepreneurs.An MNS leader pointed to how the Bombay High Court had said hawking would be permitted only in 221 designated hawking zones but not near schools, hospitals, religious places, railway stations and on foot overbridges (FOBs).”For us, the issue of illegal hawking has ended. We have taken the agitation to a logical end. Lakhs of railway commuters will get relief,” he added.Activists of the MNS, which is known for its anti-migrant stance, had attacked and chased away hawkers from outside suburban railway stations after the Railway administration did not heed their party chief’s “ultimatum” to evict these encroachers.After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road Railway station on September 29 which killed 23 people, Raj, who had organised a morcha on the Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate from the Metro Cinema had given the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, foot over bridges and premises. This would make stations safer and easier to access for commuters.TAKING A STANDMNS activists had attacked and chased away hawkers from outside railway stations after the Railways did not heed their party chief’s “ultimatum” to evict these encroachers. After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station, The MNS had given the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, FOBs and rail premises.

Ahmedabad-Mumbai line: Railways makes U-turn on RTI reply

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The route on which India’s first Bullet train is supposed to run came under question after an RTI reply from the Railways seemed to have suggested that over 40 per cent of seats on the existing trains running between Mumbai and Ahmedabad always remained unoccupied. However, the Western Railway (WR) has now clarified that this sector has been seeing over 100 per cent occupancy, and that the RTI reply was misconstrued.Western Railway’s Chief PRO Ravinder Bhakar in a press release said that between July and September this year, the total earning on this sector was Rs 233 crore. “There are 9 direct trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad having halts at en route stations, except the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Duronto Express.The total available berths of these 9 trains during this period works out to 8,03,150 against which actual passengers booked were 8,30,978. Thus, the total occupancy was 103 per cent,” said Bhakar.In the RTI reply provided to activist Anil Galgali, WR’s Chief Commercial Manager Manijit Singh had stated that 40 per cent seats were going vacant on this sector, resulting in losses of almost Rs 30 crore between July and September.However, the WR has stated that in addition to direct trains, there are 25 long-distance trains going beyond Ahmedabad and serving the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector. On these trains too, the berth potential for this period was 10,70,719 and actual passengers booked were 12,30,585, which works out to occupancy of 115 per cent.Bhakar clarified that the reply given in the RTI query is against the specific question of number of passengers from only Mumbai Central to Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad to Mumbai Central stations.”The RTI does not include information about en route traffic, i.e, passengers from originating station to en route stations, intermediate stations to intermediate stations and intermediate stations to destination station between Mumbai Central and Ahmedabad thereby showing lesser occupancy,” added Bhakar.Meanwhile, Galgali said it was surprising that when he had asked for information about occupancy on trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, it implied that information should have also been provided about all stations en route. “They have made a joke out of an RTI application. My data has come from the commercial department that knows about the statistics that are now being produced,” said Galgali.OCCUPANCY CLAIMBetween July-Sept ’17, total earning on this sector was Rs 233 crore
On the nine direct trains on the route, total occupancy was 103%

Amid controversy, Bipin Rawat says agreed to build Railway’s bridges to boost Army’s image

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid ongoing controversy over the Indian Army helping in the construction of three foot-over bridges of Railways, Army Chief Bipin Rawat said that he agreed to it to boost Army’s image.On Tuesday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Elphinstone Road station along with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal where it was announced that Army will help build foot overbridge at three stations including Elphinstone.On September 29, 23 people were killed in the rush hour stampede on a narrow overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain.
ALSO READ Is this Indian Army’s job? Angry reactions on Twitter after plan to construct new FoB at Elphinstone RoadThe government’s decision invited criticism from several political leaders who said that the Army’s job is to train for war and there was no need divert defence resources.However, Bipin Rawat told Business Standard that he has directed the army to build three railway bridges in Mumbai to boost the army’s image.
ALSO READ Amidst outrage, Army to build three FOBs at stations by Jan 31He also said that army was the first responder in almost every natural disaster, and whenever the civil administration needed help.“We often hold camps in various towns and cities on the theme of ‘Know your Army’. I would prefer that our citizens get to know their army by seeing us come to their assistance with the efficiency and capability we are known for,” Rawat said.Senior Congress leader and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had hit out at Nirmala Sitharaman saying, Army’s job is to train for war and not to be used for civilian works.”The @adgpi job is to train for war, not to be used for civilian works @nsitharaman ji. Don’t divert defence resources to civilian jobs. You’re doing what General Kaul did with the 4th Div before 1962 war with China. It will set a very bad precedent. Please avoid,” Amarinder Singh tweeted.Nirmala Sitharaman has said that a call was taken to cooperate seeing the urgency of the matter as Army has its role at the borders.”Probably first time Army has been asked to come in to build what could otherwise be called civil work. But Elphinstone tragedy was so big, a call was taken to cooperate seeing the urgency of the matter,” she had said.An inquiry report has blamed the heavy rain for the tragedy. The panel, headed by the Western Railway chief security officer, submitted its report to WR General Manager Anil Kumar today after recording statements of 30 commuters who were injured.The report said people with heavy luggage lost their balance because of which the stampede may have occurred.

Churchgate taxi traffic issue solved

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The taxi menace outside Churchgate station has been taken care of by traffic police. They have regulated the movement of taxis and even BEST buses, which, for long, has been causing congestion outside the rail premises. Over the last few days, there have been red colour barricades placed on the road, meant to segregate flow of traffic.The presence of barricades might sound negligible, but in the morning and evening, when people rush to Churchgate station, this has brought respite. There is proper segregation of vehicular traffic unlike previously when traffic jams and chaos prevailed. The black and yellow taxis would park haphazardly on road, creating two or three parking lines.These cabs don’t move until they get a passenger, which causes a traffic nightmare. There is also a share-a-taxi stand which augments the problem on road. Drivers queue up till the bus stops, which make it difficult for the BEST buses.”We have been doing whatever possible to ease traffic on the roads,” said Ashok Dudhe, DCP Traffic (City).Now, ever since these barricades have been placed, the black and yellow taxis have been asked to drop passengers and move ahead without stopping. Buses find it easier to come all the way till the bus stops there and move forward towards Marine Lines.Sources from Western Railways said that this is part of the whole plan to ease congestion outside railway stations. The multi-disciplinary audit teams have suggested this to create space outside stations for free movement of people. “It has been found that people are forced to unnecessarily wait at bus stops, which creates more crowd at station premises,” said a WR official.NEW FOBMeanwhile, the Army and Railway authorities began preliminary work at Elphinstone Road. They began taking measurements for the new foot over-bridge (FOB) that will be extended from the existing Parel FOB. This 3.5-m wide FOB will have to cross seven rail lines and is expected to be ready by January 31.

Sachin Tendulkar had written to Suburban Dist Collector about rail safety in August

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cricket legend and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar, who has received criticism in the past for poor attendance in the Upper House and has been accused of being a passive parliamentarian, had on August 28 written to the Mumbai Suburban District Collector putting forth suggestions on a wide range of issues. He had urged the Collector to consider them while drafting the Mumbai Suburban District Plan 2025 — a blueprint for development of the district till 2025.In a five-page letter, Tendulkar put forth suggestions on issues such as hawker zones, safety and security of Railways, public transport, public parking, solid waste management, water supply, water transport and open spaces for children, among others.In the letter written to Deependra Singh Kushwaha, Tendulkar had said, “A dedicated Hawker Zone/ Food Zone will help clear pedestrian area in and around railway stations and on skywalks.””Pedestrians should be directed to take pavements or skywalks where constructed and not walk between traffic in at station roads,” He added.Tendulkar added, “Vacant spaces can be utilised in every suburb for creation of weekly markets with clear markings on space and temporary/ permanent hawker zones.” He also stressed on having connectivity via water transport services to cut down road congestion and help boost tourism in the city.In the letter, written a month before the Elphinstone Road stampede in which 23 people died, Tendulkar also wrote about providing safety and security for railway commuters. “There are platforms where there is a wide gap between the train and the platform, and at some places, the edges of the platform have worn out creating dangerous situations for alighting commuters. It is time that not only this city, but the country as a whole, makes safety and security its utmost priority.”He had drawn on Hong Kong, New York and Singapore as examples for dedicated water transport systems. “I have read recent reports of linking various ferry points such as Gorai/Andheri. It will provide and alternative for people away from trains and roads – for example, Gorai can also operate to South Mumbai with vehicles on board the ferry, cutting short a three-hour drive.”Creating green spaces was also on the agenda. “Restoration of green spaces where families can sit and cook together will help create community settings in the city. We must also encourage the construction of green buildings which are self-sufficient in terms of generation of electricity and depend minimally on the grid for supply.”Other issues on which Tendulkar focused were rainwater harvesting, cleaning of rivers and water tributaries and security of road infrastructure and traffic management.

Over 100% occupancy on Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor: WR clarifies RTI reply on Rs 30 crore losses

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after an RTI reply stated how the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train route had incurred losses of nearly Rs 30 crore with 40% of seats remaining empty, the Western Railway authorities on Wednesday clarified that there is over 100% passenger occupancy on Mumbai–Ahmedabad sector.Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway in a press release said that during these 3 months, the total earnings on this sector was Rs 233 crore. “There are 9 direct trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and back. Except for the Ahmedabad Duronto Express, the other trains have several stops.“The total available berths of these 9 trains from July 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 works out to 8,03,150 against which actual passengers booked were 8,30,978. Thus the total occupancy was 103%,” said Bhakar.He clarified that the reply given in the RTI query is against the specific question of number of passengers from only Mumbai Central to Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad to Mumbai Central stations. The information does not include information about enroute traffic.The Mumbai – Ahmedabad sector is one of the busiest routes of Indian Railways caterered by 9 direct trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and around 25 trains going to onward destinations via Ahmedabad. This sector also serves important enroute stations and industrial towns such as Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Vapi, Valsad etc.

BMC-Railways hold joint meet, plan for subways

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on Tuesday called for a review meeting of the Bridges department and Removal of Encroachments department of BMC, which was also attended by Railway officials. The meeting took place on a day when Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Elphinstone Road station and announced that the Indian Army will build foot-overbridges (FOB).Member of Parliament of BJP Kirit Somaiya, who was also present at the meeting, proposed to build pedestrian subways at three railway stations — Ghatkopar, Bhandup and Mulund — instead of building additional FOBs.”BMC chief and railway officials have sanctioned the proposals and Ghatkopar station’s survey plan will be made soon. The subway at the three stations connect all the platforms. The cost will be borne 50-50 by railways and BMC, but work will be carried out by Railways”.”The proposed idea is to build subways at railway stations instead of FOBs like in the case of stations in Navi Mumbai. The additional FOBs and escalators are expensive, and wherever it is feasible, subways can be built which will play a role in diverting the crowd,” a senior BMC officer said.On removal of encroachments, especially hawkers at exits of railway stations, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Nidhi Chaudhari said, “We have already allotted tenders for deploying additional pick-up vans outside railway stations in city. Plus, I have a review meeting with concerned staff on Wednesday to take decisions on provision of logistics for taking strict action against hawkers. Whatever heavy logistics the staff needs for removing hawkers and other unauthorised structures at exits of railway stations, will be achieved”.

Officials mum on Hancock bridge rebuilding, pass the buck instead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was in November 2015, that the 135-year-old Hancock Bridge near Sandhurst Road station was demolished by Central Railway and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. In the past two years now, there have been quite a few ideas proposed to rebuild this road-overbridge; which also included approaching the Army to construct it.In fact, in July 2016, the High Court directed BMC to seek help and the expertise of the Army “by way of last resort” for construction of a temporary foot-overbridge (FOB) at the site of the demolished Hancock bridge. Sources said that earlier this June, the Army informed the High Court that construction can be done provided there is availability of a clear site of at least 15-feet on either side.Yet, on ground, there is little progress. On October 31, when the Indian Railways and Indian Army decided to build FOBs at three different stations of Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivili; there was no word on the progress of how Hancock Bridge would be taken forward. Railway officials chose to pass the buck instead of mentioning the current status of the project.”We are taking help of the Army wherever needed. Union Railway Minister will be announcing the places where the Defence ministry will help us,” said Ashwani Lohani, Chairman Railway Board. Later, the announcement of FOBs, one each at Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivili, was made by Railway minister Piyush Goyal.Later, when Central Railway General Manager DK Sharma was asked if they will discuss with the Army about the possibility of a bridge at Hancock he said: “It is supposed to be built by BMC, ask them”.Earlier this June, the Army had stated to the HC that the Railways and BMC would have to provide the site free of encumbrances and subsequently they will carry out fresh reconnaissance to examine the feasibility of the site, work out construction time and prepare other details. They also said that the Railways will have to shut down rail traffic and power supply for a required period.”I have already complained to local police about the illegal demolition by the Railways. There was no structural audit done to prove that it had to be demolished,” said Kamlakar Shenoy, activist, who is following up on this issue.In the last two years, around 16 people have lost their lives at Hancock bridge post demolition. Many locals, including children, use the tracks to get across. This bridge was demolished as it had become too old and the CR was upgrading the power supply to 25,000 volt from 1,500 volt.

Why should we wait for another crisis: Railway Ministry defends relying on Army to build Elphinstone FOB

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In times of crises, India always relies on its armed forces, the Railways said today, amid criticism over the government’s decision to take the help of the Army to build a new foot-over bridge at Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station where 23 people were killed in a stampede last month.Earlier today in Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Army would help build the FOB which will be completed by January 31 next year.”We have always relied on the Army during a crisis,” a Railway official said.The Army had strong operational expertise in the construction of roads and bridges and in developing infrastructure and had been used during many civilian crises in the past, ministry officials pointed out.”Why should we wait for another disaster to happen before seeking help? If the Army can help rebuild the structure then why not get them to build it,” said an official.Pointing out that the Army had been called in to join operations when the Mumbai-Goa highway bridge collapsed in August 2016, in rescue and rehabilitation work in Jammu and Kashmir during an earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2014 and the construction of a bridge during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, the officials said building the FOB in time was a matter of public interest.Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has criticised the decision to rope in the Indian Army for the FOB, terming it “deplorable” and “an admission of failure” of the government and the Indian Railways.National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, “The Army was to be a measure of the last resort to be called upon in an extreme emergency. Now it seems like it s the 1st number on the speed dial.”A railway official also listed instances where the Army had been called in not just to repair and rebuild, but to manage fires as in 2008 when it helped control a blaze in a 13-storeyed building in Kolkata.The ministry officials also said that not just in India, but globally too armed forces played key roles in the betterment of citizen services.They said the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) maintains deepwater ports, operates 75 hydroelectric facilities and also operates 2,500 recreation areas at 463 projects.”Our officials, engineers who will see the Army at work will also learn from the best. They will learn how to complete such tasks on a war footing. This will eventually lead to swifter completion of projects in the Railways as well,” an official said.

EC puts brakes on rail timetable publicity, bars introduction of new trains for Himachal and Gujarat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Election Commission has barred the railways from publicising its new timetables and introducing new trains for poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.A letter received by the ministry from the EC last week states that while the railways can go ahead with publishing the new timetables — ‘Trains at a Glance’ — and making it operational as planned on November 1, “no publicity shall be made in this regard”. Railway sources had earlier said that as many as 700 trains could see alterations in the new schedules because of changes in departure/arrival timings, enhanced speed and various other adjustments made by the transport behemoth in an effort to cut down travel time of long-distance trains.Many express trains have been made superfast as a result of which train numbers have been changed, which could create confusion among passengers. As of now, the railways has not been able to publicise these particular changes to inform the public, the sources said. Each zonal railway is ready with its own timetable, but is wary of publicising them because of the EC letter, the sources said. The railways also has a slew of new trains that would benefit several states, officials said.According to the EC letter, no new trains in these two states can be introduced or formally inaugurated till the model code of conduct is in place. Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on November 9, while the Assembly polls in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14. “If passengers are having problems, the railway ministry is free to write to us again and we will review the matter,” a senior EC functionary told PTI.

‘T’ for transgender in railway tickets soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With growing awareness and sensitisation, The Indian Railways, too, plans to introduce reforms to recognise ‘transgenders’ in their forms. This will reflect in ticket booking and cancellation forms, which will be modified to include a ‘T’ beside ‘M’ and ‘F’.So far, only male and female categories were mentioned in the forms.According to a recent Railway Board letter to all zonal railways, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is at present dealing with various issues of transgenders and a proposed legislation — The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, is being reviewed by a parliamentary standing committee.”The matter has been reviewed and it has been decided that till such time the detailed modalities on this account are finalised by the Ministry of Social Justice, a provision may be made in the system to capture the gender of transgenders as ‘T’ instead of ‘T(M/F)’ as advised earlier,” says the letter.In a landmark judgement in 2014, the Supreme Court created the ‘third gender’ status for hijras or transgenders.Following the order, many government documents such as passports, ration cards, bank forms, and voter identity cards have started providing ‘TG’ (third gender), ‘Other’ or ‘T’ (transgender) as options. However, despite introducing the option ‘T(M/F)’ through an order in 2016, the railway forms kept giving binary option of M/F only.The Railway Board said in its review it had also taken into consideration the directions of the Kolkata High Court which had asked State Bank of India to include the third gender category in its application forms for recruitments.The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Railways, will make necessary changes in the software to include the transgender category in the passenger railway system under intimation to all zonal railways, the letter said.

Taking a convenient stand won’t help Sena: Devendra Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who completes three years in the job at the end of this month, on Friday rejected suggestions of a resurgence of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, and hit out at coalition partner Shiv Sena for following a politics of convenience.Calling the Raj Thackeray-led MNS a dying party, Fadnavis said that the party’s members acting against hawkers was merely for show.Asked about the MNS success in getting rid of hawkers at suburban railway stations, something that has eluded the state machinery, Fadnavis said, “MNS is doing it for the sake of showing that it is there. This party is going to die and it is you (media) people who are blowing them up out of proportion.”Fadnavis maintained that government departments were also acting against hawkers on a daily basis. “BMC, Police department, Railway police and Railways are taking action jointly every day against hawkers but government agencies can never beat up hawkers and that is why you people show it,” he said.Referring to the almost-daily criticism by coalition partner Shiv Sena, he said, “One can either be in power or in Opposition but taking convenient stance would not help Sena in a longer run. I think it would be at receiving end with such a stance.’Fadnavis conceded there were problems in implementation of the loan waiver scheme because of discrepancies in figures from the state-level bankers committee and individual banks, but maintained that 70 per cent of farmers would receive their money by November 25.As for the defection of 6 MNS corporators to the BJP, Fadnavis said they had approached the party and he had decided from Day One to let them join the Shiv Sena. He also dismissed reports that the BJP had offered these corporators money to their decision.As for a cabinet reshuffle, Fadnavis said former CM Narayan Rane “would be given his due since he is now an NDA alliance partner”.

Proposal to merge BEST budget with that of civic body cleared

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The general body of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday cleared a proposal to merge the budget of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking with the annual civic budget. The proposal was cleared without any discussion in the House, however, it requires the civic chief’s approval.It is believed that the merger would, in the coming years, bring financial stability to the undertaking, which has been reeling under massive financial strain. At present, the transport undertaking has been dealing with losses of more than Rs 2,000 crores, which needs to be addressed immediately. The merger will be similar to the Railways budget with the Union Budget.Both the Shiv Sena and the Congress have claimed that the merger of the BEST with the BMC’s budget would save the sinking transport undertaking. “The cash-rich BMC can tide over the BEST’s losses and pay salaries to around 42,000 BEST employees,” said Congress corporator Ravi Raja, leader of Opposition in the BMC.The merger of the budgets had been cleared by a majority of members of the BEST committee on August 14. The move had come after Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray assured unions of the bus service, who had staged a one-day strike, that the budget would be merged to ensure smooth operations of the undertaking. The unions had staged a protest following the delay in payment of their salaries.The proposal to merge the BEST budget with civic annual budget was tabled for approval at the BMC’s general body meeting on Friday (Friday? What date?) and it was cleared as no members opposed it. Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said that as no members were opposing it, the proposal stood cleared.According to civic officials, over the last one decade, the BEST has accumulated losses of about Rs 2,000 crore, and this has resulted in delays in salary payments, and has forced the undertaking to take overdrafts to pay them. “Merging the BEST budget with that of the BMC can help it tide over the loses as the BMC has fixed deposits of over Rs 61,000 crore,”said Raja.Civic chief Ajoy Mehta had stated in the past that the merger of the budgets would be possible only if BEST accepts certain conditions, such as allowing private buses in its fleet and reducing remunerations paid to BEST employees.”As the merger will increase financial burden on the BMC, the civic chief will not go ahead unless terms and conditions set by the civic chief are followed,” said a senior civic official, requesting anonymity.HOW BEST STANDSAdditional burden on BMC after mergerRs 2,100 cr (BEST losses in past 20 yrs) and Rs 500 cr annual expense Rs 880 cr deficit annual budget3,700 buses ply42,000 number of employeesRs 2,100 cr present loss

Amul makes a business proposition to Indian Railways on Twitter. Railways reply is epic

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dairy giant Amul today reached out to the Indian Railways on its official Twitter handle with a business proposition to use its refrigerated parcel vans to transport Amul Butter across India. And the railway Twitter handle responded in the most epic way possibleThe Railways promptly responded on the micro-blogging site, using a popular tag line of the company for the brand.The Indian Railways extensively uses Twitter to address passenger woes. But this could perhaps be the first time the national transporter has received a business proposition on the micro-blogging site.The Indian Railways had introduced the refrigerated van service a few years ago with an aim to facilitate the transportation of perishable commodities such as fruits, vegetables, frozen meats/poultry and chocolates, but most of the vans were lying defunct, according to a ministry official.However, this service exists only on specific routes.”We would certainly like to capture this traffic. Let us see what can be done,” the official added.The senior divisional manager of the Ahmedabad Division will meet officials from Amul tomorrow to discuss this, said the official.He said that the South Western Railway has some refrigerated vans, they can be repaired and used by the Railways to assist Amul.

Need more police stns, chowkies: Government Railway Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government Railway Police (GRP) during the audit of railway stations on the Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) has pointed out to the Railways the need for more police stations and chowkies. The GRP will suggest the location of the infrastructure to the railways.The WR has seven police stations to monitor 37 railway stations from Churchgate to Bordi while CR has 10 police stations to monitor 85 railway stations including the Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines.Apart from the infrastructure for better policing, the GRP has mentioned important points for putting up fences and developing boundary walls along the tracks. Officers in the survey team have also noted points at which the Railways should provide better illumination lights for monitoring situations at railway platforms.”Due to lack of chowkies and police stations, it becomes difficult to control any situation immediately. The need for better infrastructure in terms of increasing the number of police stations and chowkies will enable our policemen to enhance the response time and control any untoward incident,” said a senior GRP officer.”During the inspection of railway platforms, we also found that the lights of a few railway platforms were dim and CCTV cameras were unable to provide proper footage of the railway platforms. Few spots were in complete darkness which is a security issue, especially for women,” said the officer.The Deputy Commissioners of Police from Central Zone and West Zone will submit a detailed report on safety measures required and the need for infrastructure at railway stations. A senior officer on condition of anonymity said, “With the increase in commuters, maintaining law and order situation is a challenging task.”Niket Kaushik, Commissioner of Railway Police, said, “We will submit our findings to the Railways and a joint discussion will be held soon.”AUDIT REPORTApart from infrastructure for better policing, officers in the survey team have noted points at which the Railways should provide better illumination lights for monitoring situations at railway platforms.

MNS tears down stalls at Thane, Vasai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Activists of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) attacked and chased away hawkers from outside suburban Railway stations on Saturday after the Railway administration did not heed their party chief’s “ultimatum” to evict them. MNS leaders warned that in case authorities were not stirred into action, this protest would continue with the party visiting other stations on Sunday to check whether the hawkers have been evicted. If not, MNS has threatened to take the necessary “action” against them.After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road Railway station on September 29, which killed 23 people, Thackeray organised a morcha to the Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate from the Metro Cinema and gave the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, foot-over-bridges and railway premises. This would make stations safer and easier to access for commuters.Thackeray, whose party is at an ebb after successive electoral defeats and desertions from the rank-and-file, had threatened that in case this deadline, which ended on Friday, was not adhered to by the authorities, his party workers would do the needful.On Saturday, slogan-shouting MNS workers threatened hawkers outside Thane, Kalyan, Vasai Road and Nalasopara Railway stations, manhandled some vendors and broke stalls.”We had given them a memorandum 15 days ago,” said former MNS legislator from Mahim, Nitin Sardesai.”Since they did not listen to this, we had no option. If the (Railway) administration had performed their duty well, we would not have been forced to act.” Avinash Jadhav, the MNS city unit chief in Thane, who evicted hawkers at Thane West, said these protests had made vendors disappear from many railway stations on the Mumbai suburban network.”A case of rioting and vandalism has been registered against the accused in three different police stations in Thane city and we have identified the accused, who would be arrested soon,” said Sukhada Narkar, Thane police spokesperson. Sources said the arrests are likely to take place till late on Saturday night.In 2008, Raj had begun his anti-migrant, anti-outsider campaign by targeting hawkers from northern states and his party workers had also assaulted students from other states visiting Mumbai for a Railway recruitment examination. Raj alleged that the influx of outsiders deprived local Maharashtrian youth of employment opportunities and that the Railway recruitment process was biased in favour of candidates from north India.However, MNS leaders said they were demanding action against hawkers regardless of whether they were Maharashtrians or non-Maharashtrians.Meanwhile, Union minister of state for social justice and Republican Party of India (RPI-A) leader Ramdas Athavale criticised the MNS violence and warned of retaliation by his cadre in case “poor hawkers were attacked.”

After stampede, railway station to have no-hawking zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Getting out of a railway station in Mumbai is already a tedious task, and to make matters worse, encroachment by illegal hawkers at or near railway stations hinders smooth movement. Thus, the Maharashtra government has fixed a ‘no hawking zone’ at all railway stations, specifying a buffer of 150-metres from rail premises. This comes as a significant step to decongest stations following the stampede at Elphinstone Road station in which 23 people died.Sources said that this decision has been taken following the September 30 meeting chaired by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. “On October 8, we received a letter from the chief secretary asking us to create a ‘no hawking zone’ at stations,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway. The letter has been sent to the civic bodies too.Sources said that they have started the process of demarcating the rail premises for which they will put up boards or poles. Once this is done, the BMC will begin the process of identifying 150-metres from the rail premises. “We will calculate this distance from the entry or exit points of railway stations,” said another rail official.Railway officials are also identifying stations where hawkers are seen in huge numbers. Railways and BMC will then profile these hawkers. Apart from the Railway Protection Force, ticket collectors and commercial inspectors too have been allowed to click pictures of illegal hawkers. Profiles of hawkers will be created and maintained by the RPF. These will be shared with BMC, and the two agencies are expected to ensure that steps are taken to provide designated space for hawkers.Shashank Rao, president of Mumbai Hawkers Union, said: “We will first see the demarcation made for hawking. The 150-meters as ‘no hawking zone’ is absurd, as even during elections, people aren’t allowed till 100 meters. We are planning to go on a day-long strike in November against the policies framed against hawkers by the government.”BMC is already working on a Hawkers Policy, which was first proposed in 2014. It has sent a proposal to the state government to form a Town Vending Committees (TVC), which will outline the framework of the Hawkers Policy after conducting surveys.The TVC is likely to conduct surveys to identify street vendors, issue certificates to eligible ones, recommend areas to be declared non-hawking zones, demarcate spaces for hawking and regulate timings. The hawkers will be divided into three categories — mobile, stationary and permanent ones. There are close to three lakh hawkers in Mumbai.

Tejas Express says food on-board was ‘satisfactory’, blames kids who vomited for ‘vitiating air quality in AC coach’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> An inquiry report on the suspected food poisoning incident on-board the Tejas Express train has found no problem with the food quality, and said the unease was triggered after two children vomited “vitiating the air quality in the a/c coach”.The report by a Central Railways team said the quality of the food served on-board the premium train was “satisfactory”.It said the first case of uneasiness was reported after two children in a group of tourists from Himachal Pradesh vomited in the air-condition coach.”The vomiting smell triggered uneasiness in others and then another two children vomited. This further vitiated the air in the coach and then two more children vomited. This triggered uneasiness in their parents,” the report stated.”After this incident, few other passengers of C1, C2, C5, C7 coaches who passed through this coach also complained of uneasiness,” the report adds.A three-member committee comprising senior railway and IRCTC officials was formed yesterday after 26 passengers had taken ill on-board the Mumbai-bound Tejas Express from Goa after breakfast.The report, accessed by the PTI, also said that another tourist group from Kolkata complained of uneasiness.The groups tour manager said they had been travelling continuously for the past 16 days in Maharashtra and Goa and were carrying their own cooks and food materials, including fish (Hilsa) from Kolkata, the report said.”He very clearly and categorically said that there was no problem with food quality,” the report added.It, however, didn’t say if the group had had food served on the train or the food they were carrying. It also did not clarify if the smell of the fish triggered the vomiting.The railways said its officials spoke to 20 passengers and their statements were recorded.In the conclusion, drawn from the statements of the passengers and officials on duty, the report said, it appears the food served “on Tejas Express was of satisfactory quality”.”He (the Kolkata tour manager) said he had had everything served by waiters but found no problem with the food. Six passengers of his group had fallen ill and were sent to Chiplun hospital,” the report said.The report also included the statement of a doctor, Sanjay R Nimbalkar, who was travelling with his family and attended to the ill passengers.The doctor in his statement to the railway officials has said he himself had had the food and found no issues with its quality.The PTI independently spoke with Dr. Nimbalkar who confirmed he had found no problem with the quality of the food — bread, egg omelet, mango drink, tea, coffee and mineral water.The report stated that the packaged food served on trains were also checked – soup, poha, cake, bread sticks, kokum sarbat and mango punch – and they were all well within their expiry date.However, it said some passengers had complained about a smell from their omelets and the “quality of omelet may be ensured while serving”.

Speak up Mumbai: Do rly officials need to be held responsible?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the ever-increasing population relying on the city’s lifeline for their daily commute, the railway infrastructure continues to crumble.The incident of Elphinstone Road stampede on August 29 was the last thing a Mumbaikar expected. What made it worse was the inquiry report that absolved railway authorities and gave them a clean chit despite the death of 23 people.The railways, BMC, MMRDA and police authorities have now come together to sort out differences and build safer railway stations in Mumbai. However, senior railway officials confirmed on Saturday that they will struggle to meet the new Parel FOB deadline. We can expect this reunion to help build a better transport network but the question of accountability remains if no one is held responsible for the death of these 23 people.Accountability is important so that jobs are taken seriously. DNA speaks to a cross-section of residents to know if officials across departments need to be held responsible for their actions, especially when it is a matter of life and death.Former Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, had already sanctioned the file for the Elphinstone-Parel FOB. However, the lower level bureaucrats were negligent and delayed the process of floating tenders. The officials should be held responsible for their lackadaisical efforts and an FIR should be lodged immediately.—Irfan Machiwala, resident of Mahim.To be honest, it’s not that railway officials are corrupt, it is because we are still following the red tape culture of government processes. It is high time that the government starts implementing the culture of private organisation in their own system. To improve accountability, the government should sack officials who do not perform up to the mark.—Upendra Rai, resident of VirarI do not agree that the government or Railways are responsible for the FOB stampede. Everyone was in a rush. Instead of pushing each other, people could have waited calmly. Further, rumours about the bridge collapsing added to the chaos. Hence, I think the onus of the stampede is on the commuters. Infrastructure development in a crowded city like Mumbai will take time.—Karan Kateja, resident of KalyanThis mentality of blaming the government for lapses is not right. The common man, too, has to be alert and sensitive enough to understand the situation. The rumours spread by people that day was the main reason behind the stampede. The Railways need to upgrade their infrastructure so that they can provide adequate services to the ever-increasing number of commuters during peak hours. We cannot entirely blame the Railways, but we, too, have to be equally responsible for the tragedy.—Madhu Daswani, resident of BandraThe railways should take ownership of what has happened. Infrastructure across Railways is poor and there is no accountability despite several complaints. The shifting of blame game should stop and commuters should get the facilities that they pay for.—Uday Kulkarni, resident of VikhroliYes, railway authorities should also be blamed for the incident. It is their responsibility to provide better infrastructure for the commuters. Apart from this, sudden rains and rumours added to the bridge collapse tragedy. However, a commuter-friendly bridge would have caused less damage. Rather than limiting these projects to paper, implementing them could have saved lives. Proper planning as well as implementation is necessary.—Rohit Sawant, resident of ParelOfficials should be held responsible for their erroneous actions. They have time and money to clear projects like the Shivaji Maharaj statue in the Arabian sea but not enough time to complete pending projects. The tragedy could have been averted if pending projects were completed in time. Rumours like “the bridge has fallen” would have then not affected people and created panic that lead to the tragedy.—Imran Shaikh, resident of AndheriDue to the influx of commercial spaces in and around Elphinstone and Parel, the narrow width of the bridge was highlighted time and again. Despite this, officials turned a deaf ear to the needs of the commuters. Railway officials are equally responsible and action should be taken against them.—Homa Pouredehi, resident of Marine LinesEXPERT SPEAKIdeally, in such cases a third party should conduct an inquiry. However, in the Elphinstone Road stampede case the inquiry was conducted by railway officials themselves. Due to this, none of their fellow colleagues or offcials responsible for this mess were found guilty. We can expect justice only if inquires are conducted by third parties.—Madhu Kotian, president, Mumbai Rail Pravasi SanghIdeally, in such cases a third party should conduct an inquiry. However, in the Elphinstone Road stampede case the inquiry was conducted by railway officials themselves. Due to this, none of their fellow colleagues or offcials responsible for this mess were found guilty. We can expect justice only if inquires are conducted by third parties.—Madhu Kotian, president, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh

26 passengers taken to hospital due to food poisoning on Tejas Express

Updated: Oct 15, 2017, 07:56 PM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 26 people aboard the Mumbai-bound Tejas Express from Goa were on Sunday taken ill after consuming food served by the Railways’ catering wing, IRCTC, the Konkan Railways said.The passengers were headed towards Mumbai. After consuming the food served by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) on the Tejas Express, they complained of uneasiness, Konkan Railway Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta told PTI.The train was stopped at the Chiplun station and all 26 people were admitted to the city’s Life Care hospital. Their condition is not serious, he said.The Tejas Express, one of the premium trains of the Indian Railways, connects Mumbai and Karmali in Goa.​

ED interrogates Tejashwi Yadav in corruption case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, son of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesday in connection with its money laundering probe in the hotels-for-land corruption case. They is agency to grill Tejashwi’s mother Rabri Devi on Wednesday in the same case.Tejashwi was questioned for eight long hours about his accounts and the companies associated with him. Before entering into the headquaters office, Tejashwi told reporters, “I am not running away from any agency. I am here to answer all the queries of all the agencies. I have not done any thing wrong.”According to a senior ED officer, he appeared before the agency headquarters at 12 noon and was grilled for eight longs hours. The case pertains to Lalu’s tenure as railways minister and relates to the award of contract to maintain two IRCTC hotels in 2006.The ED had registered a money a laundering case against them on basis of the FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In the same case, the CBI had already questioned Lalu and Tejashwi.The CBI had booked Lalu and his family members in July and carried out raids at multiple places. The CBI alleged that Lalu, as railway minister, handed over maintenance of two hotels run by IRCTC, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, in Ranchi and Puri, to Sujata Hotel, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, in return for a plot of three acres in Patna.

Godhra carnage was not an act of terror, state failed to maintain law and order: Gujarat HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat High Court, in its judgement on the 2002 Godhra carnage, has upheld the conspiracy theory but said the crime of the 11 convicts whose death sentence was commuted to rigorous life imprisonment was neither terrorism nor an act of waging war against the state.The division bench of Justice Anant S Dave and G R Udhwani, in the order made available today, pulled up the state government for failing to maintain law and order, saying the state failed to apprehend the trouble considering the circumstances prevailing then.It also said that the Ministry of Railways did not take “measures to ensure safety of the passengers or to provide alternatives” considering that the Sabarmati Express, a coach of which was burnt killing 59 kar sevaks, was “overcrowded.” The courty yesterday commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts to rigorous life imprisonment, while upholding the life sentence of another 20 in the case.The court commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment relying on observations made by the Law Commission of India which recommends that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism related offences and waging war.”The cases on hand have no genesis in the act of terrorism or waging war against the state,” the court said.”Death penalties eliminates a person to a point of no return. While considering the question of sentence to death, a duty is cast upon the court to deliberate on various facets of sentence and to immunise itself to avoid branding imposition of death sentence as `judge centric’ or `blood thirsty’,” said the judgement.The court said the fact that the coach of Sabarmati Express Train that was set on fire killing 59 kar sevaks was overcrowded, and that more than 100 persons could disembark safely on the other side.”Overcrowdedness in the coach contributed to the enhancement of number of casualties which, in our judgement, might have been far far low in absence of the coach being overcrowded with double the official capacity of the passengers and the luggage,” it said.The fact that 100 passengers could escape suggested that while “the accused had the intention to cause death and maximum damage, they did not intend to enhance the number of casualties,” the court said, adding that it would rather settle for rigorous imprisonment for life.While ordering compensation to the kin of the deceased victims to the tune of Rs 10 lakh, the court pulled up the state over the law and order situation.”Constitutional obligation to maintain law and order obligated the state to ensure safety of the persons who ventured to go to Ayodhya for Aahuti, etc. Furthermore, Signal Faliya, Godhra is highly sensitive communal riots prone zone to the knowledge of the state,” the court said.”In the above factual scenario, the government ought to have apprehended the trouble at least in sensitive areas like Signal Faliya wherefrom the train was scheduled to pass,” the court said while ordering compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the deceased.It said the Ministry of Railways was also “negligent in performing the duties for providing safety to the passengers travelling in the trains.”The court upheld the conspiracy theory, saying that emergence, pattern, nature, ignition, colour of flames and temperature in centigrade along with smoke and fire in coach S/6 of ill-fated train based on replies by experts “persuade us to reject theories canvassed by learned counsel for the defence about fire in the coach was due to unknown cause other than the conspiracy for which proper method of investigation in the cases of arson was not followed.”The court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the special SIT court which had on March 1, 2011 convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 others in the case.The lower court had accepted the prosecution’s contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident.The Justice Nanavati Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government to probe the carnage, had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was not an accident, but the coach had been set ablaze.

Do not consider newspaper vendors as hawkers: Nitesh Rane

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Monday, a delegation led by Nitesh Rane, a Member of Legislative Assembly and President of Swabhiman Sanghatana, met the Divisional Railway Manager of Central Railway and asked him not to take action against the newspaper vendors outside railway stations.The delegation asked for a designated spot to be assigned to newspaper vendors.The meeting was held at 10.30 am with the Divisional Railway Manager for Central Railways at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Nitesh Rane, in his letter to the DRM of Central Railway, asked the authorities not to consider newspaper vendors as hawkers. The letter further requests that Railways should provide a place for the vendor as they play an important role in society by providing newspapers and keeping people informed.The Elphinstone Road stampede, which claimed 23 lives last month, led to the Railways conducting crackdowns on hawkers outside railway platforms and on Foot Over Bridges. Action was also taken on them.”We have been requesting the Railway Protection Force (RPF) not to take action against newspaper vendors, but they did not hear our plea and kept on with the crackdown. This has led to huge financial losses.”, said Ravi Shinde, a vendor from Thane.ACTION TAKENThe Elphinstone Road stampede, which claimed 23 lives last month, led to the Railways conducting crackdowns on hawkers outside railway platforms and on Foot Over Bridges. Action was also taken on them.
The letter further requests that Railways should provide a place for the vendor as they play an important role in society, in keeping people informed.

FOBs at rly stations to come under CCTV camera cover

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of last week’s stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road foot overbridge (FOB), which claimed 22 lives, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Delhi has suggested to Delhi Division’s senior officers to install CCTV cameras on foot overbridges at all railway stations.Talking to DNA, Sanjay Kishore, Inspector General-cum-Chief Security Commissioner of RPF, Northern Railways, said the precautionary measure has been taken to step up vigil at FOBs, which get unusually crowded during peak hours. “The festive season is approaching and the step is being taken so that Mumbai-like tragedy is not repeated,” the IG said.On September 29, a huge mob of morning commuters were caught in a stampede on a narrow footbridge that links two railways stations in Mumbai, leaving 22 dead and more than two dozen injured. The bridge was unusually overcrowded as people had taken shelter there from heavy rainfall.Kishore further said the CCTV cameras would help them keep an eye on the mob and help in crowd management. “Every day, lakhs of passengers use FOBs at railway stations. In the wake of the Mumbai incident, the RPF and the Railways have become cautious. A proposal in this regard has been sent to the Divisional Railway Manager’s office, Delhi Division, and it has also been discussed with senior officers,” he said.The RPF had also stepped up security at railway stations in Delhi, after the terrorist attack on the Marseille train station in France last week.Taking precautionsOn September 29, a huge mob of morning commuters were caught in a stampede due to heavy rains on a narrow footbridge that links two railways stations in Mumbai.The incident left 22 dead and more than two dozen injured. The bridge was unusually overcrowded as people had taken shelter there from heavy rainfall.

Following stampede at Elphinstone Road, railways start drive to evict hawkers on pedestrian bridges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to prevent incidents like the Elphinstone station stampede that claimed 23 lives, the railway administration has undertaken a drive to evict illegal hawkers from the entry and exit points of the station as well as from the foot over bridges (FOBs) to ease commuter movement.Twenty-three people were killed in the stampede on a FOB linking Parel and Elphinstone Road last Friday during rush hour.“Though action against hawkers is undertaken on a regular basis, from October 1, this drive has been intensified with a combined operation launched by the RPF and GRP, and moreover they will also be patrolling the FoBs,” said chief spokesperson of the Western Railway Ravinder Bhakar.However, passengers and railway representatives want permanent eviction of hawkers and have warned the railway officials that they would report to the Railways Minister if the hawkers return to do business at these spots.Bhakar said Western Railway administration is soon going to demarcate the railway area to stop this menace forever.He said, “Most of the complaints against hawkers we receive, fall under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) area where we do not have our administrative control.”So we are blamed unnecessarily. Therefore, we have decided to demarcate our periphery and we will keep full vigil within our jurisdiction.”The Central Railway too has launched a drive against illegal hawkers at several stations including Ghatkopar, Kurla, Byculla, Mulund.Eviction of hawkers paved way for smooth movement of commuters near railway stations and on foot overbridges.Senior PRO of Central Railway A K Jain said, “Though our security forces, keep driving away unauthorised hawkers, they have been now been asked to deal strictly with them.” Rajiv Singal, who has been a member of Railway Users Consultative Committees in Central Railway and Western Railway, however, dubs this exercise of evicting hawkers as merely an “eyewash”.Singal said, “This is simply dressing up and no permanent cure. It is showoff because audit team is doing their job and media pressure is working. I can bet you, hawkers will be back again.””Until and unless, disciplinary action is not taken against the senior RPF officials in whose jurisdiction hawkers operate, nothing is going to change,” Singal said.T N Dubey, former member of Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committees in Western Railway, said, “If hawkers come back, we will write to the Railways Minister and draw his attention to the issue.”

Expand packed Churchgate subway, authorities urged

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Transport experts and citizens want a better passegners dispersal system at Churchgate, the terminating point for the Western Railway which ferries 37 lakh people every day.Churchgate station is among the most crowded spots in Mumbai. Owing to inadequate infrastructure, the subway leading to the terminal is of little use as it gets congested during morning and evening peak hours, leading people to spill out onto the roads. Besides, shops and hawkers plying trade inside the subway also eat into the space.“This further curtails the space to walk. There is a need for the authorities to have a traffic signal only for pedestrians,” said Nayana Kathpalia, trustee, NAGAR, and a resident of Churchgate. The residents have been asking the authorities to come up with solutions to the crowding. They claim that several years ago there was a foot overbridge to the station. The transport experts are of the view that the authorities like BMC and MMRDA, which is constructing the Metro in south Mumbai, should coordinate with the Indian Railways to improve the dispersal system.They want subways with escalators connecting the proposed Metro stations with the existing subway and create more openings towards the Bombay High Court till Flora Fountain. “Now that Metro is being constructed, this is the time for the authorities to expand the subway so people need not come onto the roads,” said AV Shenoy, member, Mumbai Transport Forum.The MTF stated they are working on the passenger dispersal system and will write to the government and civic authorities to ease the situation at Churchgate.

Clear land disputes in projects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Railways has informed the state government and its agencies that until the land acquisition process for projects is not complete, they cannot start a project. “The Railway minister made it clear that unless the land acquisition process is not completed, we would not commence our projects,” said a senior railway official.One such example is the 6th line between Borivli and Mumbai Central, meant for long distance trains on Western Railway (WR), that is stuck since 2008 when the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-2 commenced. The WR is struggling to shift the rail-overbridge between Khar-Bandra by 40 meters on the east towards Bandra Terminus. The locals are objecting as the spot has a cemetery and are refusing other solutions provided.”We have agreed to all their demands and are in touch with the government agencies to resolve the issue but nothing has worked out in our favour which has led to an escalation in cost,” said a senior WR official. The cost of the 6th line has escalated from Rs 430 crore in 2008 to Rs 918 crore now.Opposition from residents of the area is also the reason the WR has been unable to use the 5th line despite its completion, which they could use to add more local train services.For the 6th line, the WR needs land parcels covering a total area of 2130 sq meters at Vile Parle, Malad, Goregaon and Borivli. They also need 435-meter long land space in pockets too. “We have started work near Santacruz, Goregaon and Vile Parle since March but unless we do not get land parcels, it will be difficult to proceed,” said a WR official.STILL IN HOSPITALAs per information from KEM Hospital, 19 injured victims are yet at the hospital. Akash Parab, 18, who fractured his leg was operated on Monday. Dr Avinash Supe, the dean of KEM Hospital, said, “On Monday, five of the injured in the orthopaedic ward were ready for discharge but they haven’t yet as the paperwork is going on and they will be discharged soon.” Few more patients will be undergoing surgery soon. COMPENSATIONThe WR has paid an ex gratia amount of Rs 1.34 crore to the victims of the Elphinstone Road stampede. They have paid Rs 1.15 crore via cheque to the kin of the dead, Rs 15 lakh to those with simple injuries, and Rs 4 lakh to those with grievous injuries. WR officials said that they are yet to pay Rs 4.85 lakh to the kin of one of the deceased as they are waiting for confirmation of his identity from the police.

IRCTC removes juice brand after former railway minister complains of contamination

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Railways’ catering wing, IRCTC, has delisted a juice brand after former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi complained that he was served a “contaminated” drink onboard a premium train.Trivedi, who was travelling on board the Kathgodam-Delhi Shatabdi on Dussehra on September 30, was served lemon juice of a well-known brand, which, he said, had ‘kachra’ (contamination).”The IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) really needs to pull up its socks. The railways needs to put in checks and balances so that there is some accountability of its subsidiary departments,” Trivedi told PTI.The railways has reacted to Trivedi’s complaint swiftly and delisted the brand pending laboratory investigation, IRCTC spokesperson Siddharth Singh said.”We have delisted the agency pending lab investigation.The brand will not be seen anymore on any train for the time being,” he said.This incident comes months after a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which revealed glaring lapses in rail catering services.Trivedi said the rail minister could not be blamed for such lapses as the departments need to be held accountable.He also rued that passengers do not protest enough about such issues and in a way they are also responsible for such a sorry state of affairs.”Action must be taken against the caterer as well as the brand concerned. How can this ‘kachra’ be allowed to be served on trains? There should be an inspection at the factory where the juice was produced to see under what circumstances the drink was being churned out,” he said.The TMC leader, who quit as the railway minister in 2012 after a controversy over his recommendation for the formation of a rail regulator to hike fares, said there must be surprise checks on vendors contracted by the national transporter.​

Need to continuously improve railway infrastructure: President Kovind on Mumbai stampede tragedy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On his birthday, which fell on Sunday, Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, stressed on continuously improving every aspect of the Indian Railways, days after a stampede killed 23 people in Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai.President Kovind made these remarks in Shidi where he was inaugurating an airport, as well as the first Air India flight from Mumbai to the temple town.”The railway service is an important part of the everyday life of Mumbaikars. Every aspect related to railway services should be continuously improved,” he tweeted.Kovind had earlier expressed his condolences soon after the rail station tragedy on September 29.”Anguished by the loss of lives in the stampede in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families; prayers with injured,” he had tweeted.Twenty-three people died and over 30 were injured in the stampede that took place on a narrow foot over-bridge that connects Elphinstone Road and Parel stations in Mumbai.With PTI Inputs

Mumbai: Two arrested for assaulting KEM doctor who ‘numbered’ Elphinstone victims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two of the accused, who allegedly attacked the forensic head of the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Dr. Harish Pathak, and tried to scribble a number on his forehead, have been arrested by the Bhoiwada Police.An FIR was registered on complaint of Dr. Harish Pathak under sections 353, 145, and 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).The accused that attacked the forensic head were agitated by the hospital’s decision to identify the victims of the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone station by marking a number on their foreheads.23 people were killed and over 39 got critically injured in a rush-hour stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station’s foot-over bridge.Meanwhile, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said 20 new foot-over bridges have been approved in the Central Railways and 10 new foot-over bridges in the Western Railways. Apart from this, 13 foot-over bridges have been approved for widening.He said the 40 maintenance yards across the country will be upgraded and will be laced with modern technology for maintenance for wards, locomotive in a better way.“I have sanctioned 15 car platforms for extension in the Western Railways, which will be beneficial for speeding up the process in the slow corridor,” he said.Earlier in the day, Goyal empowered the Railways’ General Managers to spend whatever is necessary on safety.Goyal took this decision, while chairing a meeting with the senior officers of the Railway Board at Western Railways headquarters at Churchgate. Various major decisions were taken in the meeting, wherein passenger safety has been accorded the highest priority.For the next 18 months, General Managers of Railway Zones have been delegated powers without limit for safety-related issues. They shall intimate the Financial Commissioner (FC) within a week of sanction for provision, and the FC shall confirm the same within 15 days. In case of disagreement, the matter shall be put up to the Railway Board for final decision within the same 15 days.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had expressed sadness over the Mumbai stampede, assuring that a strict action will be taken against the culprits.

Shocking: Woman molested seconds before her death at Elphinstone station

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident that highlights the depth of depravity plaguing mankind, a dying woman was molested during the stampede at Elphinstone Station in Mumbai on Friday.A video clip of the incident has gone viral, in which the woman reaches out weakly for help as she is molested reports The Hindu.Another witness told the Hindu that during the incident, many people stole purses and other ornaments. An Elphinstone resident Sandesh Bahadur said: “The molestation video is shameful and without even watching it, one feels like punishing the coward responsible. We rushed to help. Women were crying for help. We couldn’t save many of them due to the crowd on the bridge.”Nikeh Kasuhik commissioner Government Railway Police said that this came under Mumbai Police but the Railways would also initiate an inquiry.The death toll in the stampede on a foot overbridge (FOB) linking two railway stations here rose to 23 with one critically injured person succumbing at the KEM hospital, its dean said.With the tragedy raising concerns of safety, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal convened a full board meeting of Railway officials here to address the safety issues and work out urgent measures.Dean Avinash Supe said Satyendrakumar Kanojia, who was in his late forties, died today.”The patient was put on ventilator as soon as he was admitted to the hospital. We tried to save him but he succumbed to internal injuries,” he told PTI.The tragedy took place on Friday around 10.40 am when the overbridge, linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations, became overcrowded with people taking shelter from a heavy downpour.Goyal, who has held a series of meetings with top officials since yesterday, announced in tweets that FOBs would now be a “mandatory” aspect of railway’s working, which it was earlier considered as only an ‘amenity’.”We are turning a 150-year-old convention on its head, hereafter, FOBs (Foot Over Bridges) will be deemed mandatory not a passenger amenity,” he tweeted.In order to check delays in execution of projects and red tape, he said the general managers of railway zones have been entrusted with power to spend on works to ensure passenger safety.Goyal had earlier announced that a multi-disciplinary auditing of all suburban stations will be done within one week and identify areas of concern.”To eliminate bureaucracy and delays, I have empowered GMs to spend whatever is necessary on safety,” he tweeted.”Work on FOBs in progress will be completed on war footing. Additional FOBs will be immediately planned at other stations where passenger traffic is also high,” he said.Meanwhile, the tragedy continued to generate political heat with the Shiv Sena and the MNS finding fault with the Centre’s priorities on railway development and sought to know the need for spending a whopping amount for the bullet train.MNS chief Raj Thackeray said stampedes in Mumbai, like the one yesterday, will continue to occur till hordes of migrants continue to pour into the city.”There has been a collapse of infrastructure facilities due to the migrant influx from other regions,” he told reporters here.”Does one need a bullet train or improvement of basic rail infrastructure,” he asked.”Until present infrastructure of local railways is made better, not a single brick will be allowed to be placed for the bullet train in Mumbai,” Raj said.The Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP but known for its aggressive posturing against the government, took a swipe at the ambitious bullet train project from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, saying, “what is the use of the bullet train when you cannot provide basic infrastructure to local commuters?” Meanwhile, bodies of 17 people have been handed over to their relatives so far, said KEM hospital authorities. The railways employees joined the city in mourning the tragedy by not celebrating Dussehra festival.Late last night, Mumbaikars took out a candle march on the Elphinstone railway bridge and prayed for the departed souls. With inputs from PTI

All coaches in CR and WR trains to be equipped with CCTVs, says Piyush Goyal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a meeting with the railways and government officials which started at 11 am and ended at 9 pm, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal asked both the Western Railways (WR) and Central Railways (CR) to ensure that all the rakes are equipped with CCTVs irrespective of it being the general or women’s compartment.However, the security forces investigating the case said that the site where the stampede occurred is not fully covered by CCTVs, and images are unclear. “We are trying to search for people who caused panic by spreading rumours. However, there are certain issues with the position of CCTVs there,” said a RPF officer.In the last two days, the city police and railway police have come forth to collect as much information as possible. They are also talking to the victims who were injured during the stampede. Even the ticket counter on top of the FOB, too, has been inspected.Meanwhile in a bid to improve safety, Piyush Goyal has announced CCTVs inside all local train coaches within the next 15 months. “Within 15 months all CCTV cameras will be installed in all suburban trains in Mumbai with a monitoring mechanism,” said Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.The CCTVs will be installed in all the coaches including general and luggage. There are approximately 240 rakes of 12-car each which makes it 2,880 coaches on both Central and Western Railways together. This is the total strength of suburban trains that operate in Mumbai.Since 2015 the WR and CR has been struggling to install CCTVs in the local trains. The plan was to install 22 CCTV cameras in each rake, which includes six cameras in each of the ladies coaches, two in the motorman’s cabin and two in the guard’s cabin, at a cost of Rs 15 lakh. However, sources said that with the entire rake being covered, the cost of this installation and set-up would go up.According to sources, in the past, the authorities were unhappy with the quality of images generated by these CCTVs especially when the train travelled at high speeds.

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