Panel Calls For Total Recast Of Railway Board
New Delhi, Dec 17: : The Parliamentary Standing Committee has come down heavily on the functioning of the Railways and has called for restructuring the entire administrative edifice of the Railway Board.
It asked the Railways to restrain market borrowings and operating cost to the minimum and increase internal generation of revenue to the optimum level.
The committee has recommended formation of a task force consisting of the representatives of the Planning Commission and the ministries of Railways, finance and programme implementation to look afresh into the issue of private sector participation in the development of rail infrastructure.
The committee attributed the present financial situation of the Railways to unabated addition of new projects every year without ensuring adequate allocations, declining share of internal revenue and increase in staff cost.
It noted that the share of internal revenue has declined to 21 per cent in 2002-03 from 58 per cent during the 8th Plan period while market borrowings had increased 36 per cent in 2001-02 from 19 per cent in the 8th Plan. In its report tabled in Parliament, the committee said it believed the funding is not the sole cause of the slow progress in project execution.
Citing defect in project planning where there is no timeframe for completion and assured phase to phase funding, the committee pointed out varied drawbacks in the Railway functioning.
It lamented the lack of effective coordination between the project executing authorities and administrative machinery at the Centre.
Besides restructuring of the Railway Board, the committee also suggested rationalising the freight and passenger fare policy, establishing a mechanism for tariff fixation, improving operational productivity and efficiency, undertaking a vigorous commercial management and upgrading safety infrastructure.
Expressing its strong disapproval with the way new projects are being included in the garb of material modification and extension of projects, the committee recommended that a complete moratorium be imposed on inclusion of new projects.
Action from railway Board New Delhi Required.