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'Railway official was eyeing lucrative electrical post'

Author: Avishek G Dastidar
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 5, 2013
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/railway-official-was-eyeing-lucrative-electrical-post/1111666/0

Railway Board Member (Staff) Mahesh Kumar, arrested for allegedly bribing a nephew of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, was apparently eyeing the post of Member (Electrical) as the electrical directorate's large programme to procure signaling and electrification equipment makes it a much sought-after position.

According to investigators, Kumar wanted to influence the appointment of the Member (Electrical) as the post is expected to fall vacant at the end of June as the incumbent is tipped to become the Railway Board chairman.

The Railway Board, however, issued a statement saying no member post is vacant at the moment. "Adverting to the reports by a section of the media regarding further aspirational postings said to be desired by Shri Mahesh Kumar, it is stated that no relevant board level post is vacant at present," it said.

The Railways also suspended Kumar after receiving an official report on the case from the CBI.

Sources said the electrical directorate has been working to issue international contracts for separate procurements whose combined value is estimated to be Rs 3,000 crore.

One of them is for the Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) whose specifications have been worked out by the Railways. The value of this contract is estimated to be between Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 2,300 crore spread over several phases. The system is meant to automatically prevent the collision of trains in the event of a driver jumping a signal.

There is also an ongoing process to award contracts for "neutral sections" or "phase breaks". The first phase of the procurement is being carried out for 347 pieces for Rs 27 crore while more procurement is in the offing this year, sources said.

The Railways has also been mulling over proposals to import semi-high speed electrical multiple unit train sets, each costing around Rs 200 crore.

While no wrongdoing has been associated with any official procurement exercise, sources said that it was possible some officials may have viewed the tendering process as an "opportunity".

"In comparison, the post of Member (Staff) does not present any 'lucrative' scope," said a senior official.
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