Indian Railways News

Money Laundering Case: Enforcement Directorate Summons Rabri Devi On October 16

Former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi today skipped her scheduled appearance before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its money laundering probe in the railway hotels allotment corruption case, officials said.

The central probe agency, they said, has now asked her to appear on October 16.

Ms Rabri Devi, the wife of RJD chief Lalu Yadav, has earlier twice skipped the ED summons in this case.

It was not immediately clear if she furnished any reason for her absence today.

The ED had yesterday questioned her son and former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav for about nine hours in connection with this case.

The CBI has also recently recorded the statement of Mr Tejashwi Yadav and Mr Lalu Yadav in this case.

The ED had registered a criminal case against the Lalu Yadav family members and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) sometime back.

It had earlier questioned a few people in this case including the wife of former UPA minister PC Gupta.

The agency had taken cognisance of a CBI FIR in this regard to initiate its own criminal complaint.

In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a criminal FIR (first information report) and conducted multiple searches against former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Yadav and others.

The ED will investigate the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, officials had said.

Ms Rabri Devi, Mr Tejashwi Yadav and others will be probed by the agency under charges

filed in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR.

The case dates back to the time when Mr Lalu Yadav was the railway minister in the UPA government.

Others named in the CBI FIR include Mr Vijay Kochhar, Mr Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC managing director Mr PK Goel.

The CBI FIR alleges that Mr Lalu Yadav, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Ms Sarla Gupta.

The FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Mr Puri and receiving premium land as ‘quid pro quo’.

The ED, under the PMLA, has powers to attach and confiscate tainted assets and it is expected that the agency will initiate such a move once it makes progress in the case.

Rain To Blame For Mumbai Stampede That Killed 23, Says Railways

The stampede at a Mumbai railway bridge that left 23 dead last month has been blamed on rain and rumours by a safety committee of the railway ministry, which does not refer to any official negligence.

The report by five officials says that on September 29, the heavy rain led to overcrowding at the narrow bridge connecting two stations and its staircases as “commuters refused to step out in the rain”.

The committee says it questioned 32 people injured in the stampede while investigating what caused it.

The stampede broke out during rush hour when thousands took a narrow railway bridge connecting two of the busiest stations in Mumbai – the Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. Four trains rolled in at the same time and a large crowd poured into the bridge that was already bursting with people taking shelter from the sudden downpour. A few commuters slipped, and people fell on them.

Angry commuters and residents had called it a disaster waiting to happen as they said the bridge was too narrow and not strong enough.

The railway committee recommends the widening of the staircase and says bids have been invited for the widening of the bridge. It also says a booking office that becomes a bottleneck during peak time should be removed from the bridge.

Making recommendations the report says that railway staff at the Elphinstone station should be equipped with walkie talkies so that they can communicate faster under such circumstances.

FOB staircases need to be widened: Rlys

The foot over bridges and its staircases on the Mumbai suburban section are peculiar, the Indian Railways said. The schedule of dimension (SODs) of these FOBs are less than the regular bridges. However, the stampede incident at Elphinstone Road station forced the Rail ministry to think over the poor state of the bridges and widen the staircases.

The railways are contemplating to widen the staircases and revise the SOD as per their manual guidelines. The SOD for any staircase of an FOB should measure from the edge of the platform till the tracks.

The width at most of the stations in the city is barely 2 meters.

The width of the staircase was only 2 meters while the width of the pathway is 5meters at the Elphinstone Road station. Sources said that they are looking at widening the basic width of the steps to 2.3-2.5 meters.

Any change in the SOD needs to undergo a policy change. “During the meeting on August 29, the minister had asked us to widen the bridges. We are considering the possibility of realigning the SOD,” said a senior railway official.

“This is the possible reason why Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety was also called for the meeting on August 29. Even in the audit report submitted by Central Railway has stated the need to widen FOBs,” he said.

SAFETY FIRST

During the meeting on August 29, the minister had asked us to widen the bridges. We are considering the possibility of realigning the SOD, a senior railway official said.

Railways to have Make In India Coaches that guarantee more safety

The Indian Railways in a bid to fulfil Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s Make in India dream have launched a 100% Make In India Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches.

As reported in the Financial Express, each and every component of the coach has been manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai.

The coaches have been allotted to Western Railways and the Railways has guaranteed passenger safety in these coaches.

Out of the two ‘Make in India’ coaches that have been rolled out by ICF, the non-AC one has 100% indigenous components. The AC coach has one imported component, the report added.

Given the spate of rail accidents over the last year, Indian Railways has decided to stop production of traditional ICF coaches in 2017. LHB coaches boast of stainless steel bodies and have anti-climbing features. This ensures that in case of a derailment, the coaches do not pile onto each other, hence making them safer. The LHB coaches also have a graduated release modular braking system the axle mounted disc brakes.

Earlier in the day, Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal spoke to a gathering regarding the modernisation of the railways and the necessity of passenger safety.

Train tickets may get cheaper as govt likely to waive off merchant discount rates on e-tickets

The train ticket you will book for your next journey might cost you a little less as the government reportedly is mulling over removing the merchant discount rate (MDR) charges.

Banks charge MDR to the merchant for providing debit and credit card services. The merchant sets up a service with the bank and charges a predetermined rate on the card transactions.

In an interview to TV channel on Thursday, CNBC-TV18, the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the discussions are on with the banks over MDR charges.

“Railways used to charge a service charge. Post demonetisation they removed that service charge and we saw digital transactions really shoot up. Now the only charge that is charges is the merchant discount rate (MDR). I am now engaged with bankers to see what we can do about that MDR also,” Goyal said.

Since May, IRCTC and the banks have been trying to come to an accord over the distribution of fees on online booking of rail tickets.

RBI had earlier lowered MDR charges on payments made through debit cards to 0.25 per cent for payment up to Rs 1,000.

Piyush Goyal also said that the government will “very soon” float a global tender to procure tracks for modernising the railways, which can create a million jobs within a year through various areas across its ecosystem.

“I have diverted all available tracks to track renewal so that we can make the existing tracks safer. We are looking to go in for global procurement of rail tracks…this will help fast track the doubling of lines and new projects,” he told reporters at the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Asked by when the global tender for tracks modernisation would be floated, Goyal said “very soon, it’s under process”.

Indian Railways puts an end to VIP culture with new norms

The Railway Ministry has asked its senior staff to slug it out – at home and at work – as part of steps to end the VIP culture in India’s national transporter.

In an unprecedented move, the ministry has brought to an end a 36-year-old protocol where it was mandatory for general managers to present themselves on arrival and departure of the Railway Board chairman and other board members during zonal visits.

As part of a massive overhaul of the culture of privilege prevalent in the ministry, the Railway Board has decided to do away with the instructions of a 1981 circular that mandated such protocol.

In an order on September 28, the ministry said that the instructions and guidelines issued to the railways regarding the protocol to be observed at airports and railway stations during the visit of the Railway Board chairman and other board members stand withdrawn with immediate effect.

Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said no official will entertain bouquets and gifts at any time.

However, it’s not just in the office that senior officials of the national carrier have to exercise restraint, but also at home. All senior officials have to relieve all the railway staff who have been engaged as domestic help in their homes.

Officials say that around 30,000 trackmen work at the homes of senior officials. They have been asked to resume duties. Sources in the ministry say that in the past one month around 6,000-7,000 personnel have reported back to work.

“No one will be exempt from the directive to rejoin work except under very special circumstances. We are hoping that all the staff will join work shortly,” a senior official of the ministry said.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has also asked senior officials to give up travelling in cosy saloons and executive class travel privileges and start travelling in Sleeper and AC Three-tier classes, mingling with other passengers.

These include members of the Railway Board, general managers of railway zones and divisional railway managers in each of the 50 divisions.

“I believe that when these protocols were in place, people drafting them would have seen some reasoning behind them. It is difficult for me to say what they were though. However, now, these have no logic.

“Also, there is a tendency in public organisations to not review protocols which have become archaic, but remain part of the dos and don’ts for officials. They should be reviewed on a regular basis,” said a former railway board member who didn’t want to be quoted.

Tejashwi Yadav Grilled For 9 Hours In Money Laundering Case By Enforcement Directorate

Tejashwi Yadav, son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, was grilled for about nine hours by the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday in connection with its money laundering probe in the railway hotels allotment corruption case.

The former Bihar deputy chief minister arrived at the central probe agency’s office in New Delhi at about 12 noon and left after 9 pm, officials said.

They said at least 40 questions were put across Tejashwi Yadav and that the investigating officer recorded his answers.

The agency is expected to record the statement of Tejashwi Yadav’s mother and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi on Wednesday.

The CBI had recently recorded the statement of Tejashwi and Lalu Prasad in the case.

The Enforcement Directorate had registered a criminal case against Lalu Prasad’s family members and others under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), sometime back.

It had earlier questioned a few people in this case, including the wife of former UPA minister P C Gupta.

The agency had taken cognisance of a CBI FIR in this regard to initiate its own criminal complaint.

In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a criminal FIR and conducted multiple searches against Lalu Prasad and others.

The Enforcement Directorate will investigate the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, officials had said.

Rabri Devi, Tejashwi Yadav, and others will be probed by the agency under charges filed in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR.

The case dates back to the time when Lalu Yadav was the railway minister in the UPA government.

in the CBI FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and then IRCTC managing director P K Goel.

The FIR alleges that Lalu Prasad, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta.

The FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as ‘quid pro quo’.

The Enforcement Directorate, under the PMLA, has powers to attach and confiscate tainted assets and it is expected that the agency will initiate such a move once it makes progress in the case.

Avoid Lavish Parties And Farewells, Railway Officers’ Wives Told

Not just railway officials but their wives too have now been asked to avoid ostentation.

The Railway Women’s Welfare Organisation (RWWO) president, Arunima Lohani, the wife of Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, has issued an advisory to RWWO members to avoid splurging, days after railway officials were asked to put an end to the VIP culture.

Ms Arunima Lohani, in the October 3 letter, asked members of the RWWO to avoid floral decorations during meetings and barred the presentation of mementos and gifts to anyone using the organisation’s funds.

She has also said that expenditure incurred towards refreshments served during such meetings should be met from the subscription collected by the RWWO.

“Farewell may be given to RWWO volunteers on the occasion of retirement only and not transfers. In case of president or senior members or executive members, the expenditure towards souvenir should not exceed Rs. 2,000. RWWO’s money should not be spent on celebration of birthdays and anniversaries of any member,” the letter reads.

An official in the know of the working of the organisation said that it was for the first time that such a letter had been issued by any president.

“For the first time, there will be some kind of accounting of the finances of the organisation. Huge amount of money was spent on farewell and parties previously,” the official said.

In an order on September 28, the Railway Board chairman brought to an end a 36-year-old protocol where it was mandatory for general managers to present themselves on arrival and departure of the Railway Board chairman and other board members during zonal visits.

Mr Ashwani Lohani also said no official would accept bouquets and gifts.

The RWWO president called for a level of accountability from office-bearers and stated that all funds collected through subscription should be deposited in the organisation’s bank account. She also stated that except for the limited cash required for day-to-day expenses, money belonging to the organisation should not be kept with any office-bearer.

She also said that a maximum tenure of three years for holding the posts of treasurer and secretary of the organisation should be strictly adhered to.

The RWWO functioning at zonal and divisional levels of the Indian Railways is engaged in various activities related to the welfare of railwaymen and their families. The organisation also runs creches, schools and training centres.

Woman Gives Birth On Mumbai Local, Doctor Boarded Train For Delivery

It was no ordinary train ride for a 26-year-old pregnant woman. She delivered a baby inside a ladies’ coach last night. The fast local, headed for Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, was somewhere near Dadar when Salma Shaikh went into labour. On seeing her condition, fellow passengers tried to calm her down and informed the railway police. A doctor and support staff from One Rupee Clinic on Dadar station rushed to help her.

A quick examination revealed that the baby was crowning so there was no time to take Salma to a hospital. Dr Prajwaleet Kambli then decided to perform the delivery inside the ladies compartment. The mother and her newborn girl were shifted to the nearby KEM hospital. Both are stable now.

Nurse Sanjeevani Padwal, who assisted the doctor, said she had never seen anything of this sort. “We thought we will just help her get to the platform so that she can be taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but by then it was too late.”

Two months ago, another woman delivered a baby in a local train with the help of One Rupee Clinic staff at Ghatkopar Station.

To provide prompt and affordable medical assistance, the Central Railways in Mumbai had started “One Rupee Clinics” at many stations across Mumbai. The first clinic was opened at Ghatkopar railway station on May 10, 2017. Officials say that the move is benefiting passengers during medical exigencies. While the consultation fee at these clinics is Re 1, a blood pressure check-up is done free of cost. The charges for other tests are affordable.

Railway Hotel Scam Case: Tejaswi Yadav Appears Before CBI

RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son Tejaswi Yadav today appeared before the CBI in connection with the ongoing probe into the 2006 IRCTC hotel case.

CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS that Tejaswi was being questioned at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi.

The questioning comes a day after Lalu Prasad was questioned for seven hours in connection with the case.

The CBI had on September 26 issued fresh summons — the third in a month — to the RJD chief and his son in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC) contract case.

 Tejaswi appeared before the CBI after skipping two earlier summons.
 The CBI on July 5 filed a corruption case against Lalu, his wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi for alleged irregularities in the allotment of contracts for IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006 to a private firm when the RJD chief was the Railway Minister.

The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar allegedly in lieu of bribe in the form of a plot of prime land in Bihar, the CBI said.

 A preliminary CBI inquiry found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.

The Enforcement Directorate had on July 27 registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR and was probing Lalu Prasad, Tejaswi and others for alleged transfer of money through shell companies.

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