Friday, December 31, 2010

Lots of work on the track
Railways needs to expand capacity through private and Govt funding.

Sector Outlook


Upgradation work: There is a backlog of sanctioned projects including track expansion, signalling and gauge conversion, valued at Rs 1,00,000 crore. Out of this, the Railways have identified throughput enhancement works valued at Rs 30,000 crore for immediate attention.

Mamuni Das

New Delhi, Dec. 27

In 2011, the key challenge for Indian Railways will be to mobilise thousands of crores of funds – both from the Government and private sector — for its capacity expansion plans. This is important to ensure that the Railways can capture a part of the incremental traffic generated by the country's eight per cent plus GDP growth story. Railways have to expand capacity broadly at three layers – tracks, rolling stock and terminals.

For some expansion plans they can pool in the resources from private sector through various models of partnership; but for core areas which are unlikely to be profitable, the Railways will have to depend on Government help given that their surplus is hovering at low levels.

THROUGHPUT ENHANCEMENT

For instance, there is a backlog of sanctioned projects including track expansion, signalling and gauge conversion, valued at Rs 100,000 crore. Out of this, the Railways have identified throughput enhancement works valued at Rs 30,000 crore for immediate attention.

“These have to be prioritised to increase the freight capacity of Railways to 1,500 million tonnes a year in 3-4 years against the existing levels of about 900-1,000 million tonnes,” says Mr Samar Jha, Financial Commissioner, Railway Board. Almost 70 per cent of the Railways' income is from freight movement.

To arrange the funds, the Railway Ministry had tried to get a dividend waiver for five years from the Centre. It has also proposed in its Vision Document the creation of an accelerated rail development fund to take up the works.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Justifying the Ministry's demand for increased funding from the Centre, Mr Jha says, “Barring American railroads, most of the railroads receive fairly high levels of Government subsidy. We must remember that from rail links along the Golden Quadrilateral and its diagonals in our country, there was no return for 50 years. Moreover, this is the most environment-friendly mode of transportation.”

To attract investments into some of the last mile rail connectivity projects, the Ministry has modified some features of Railways infrastructure for industry initiative (R3i) policy.

“We have already seen seven applications for investments under the R3i model,” Mr Jha said, adding that the Ministry will soon come out with its policy to open up the coal and iron ore rail linkages for private funding.

On the rolling stock front, Railways would have to bid the projects to set up the electric and diesel locomotive and the supporting ancillary unit factories on a public-private partnership basis. The qualifying bid rounds for these projects are already through for a few months now. The financial bid due dates for electric loco factory at Madhepura and ancillary unit at Dankuni are now slotted for January after several rounds of date shifts. “The loco unit projects are on track,” insists Mr Jha pointing out that the Railways have to be careful since these are based on new, complex, models, and involve partnerships with private sector over long periods.

PASSENGER LOSSES

On the passenger segment, the Railways' will have to take steps towards increasing revenues and reduce losses that run into Rs 14,000 crore.

The Finance Ministry and Planning Commission have been trying hard to get the Railways to bring the passenger fares to reasonable levels since there have been no significant increase for the last six-seven years now. But, indications are this is not really on the priority list of Railways.

“Railways have a social obligation to serve a vast majority of India's population, which is poor. There are movements of migrant labour force from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh to Punjab and other States where infrastructure projects are on. This mobility has to be maintained for the country's growth,” Mr Jha says.

In fact, to increase the revenues; the Railways in 2010 have resorted to several freight fare increase exercises, further intensifying the cross-subsidisation levels debate. On the cost control side, the Indian Railways does not have many reasons to cheer because even though major impact of the Sixth Pay Commission is expected to end by March; there is a recurring incremental expenditure of Rs 15,000 crore a year that has to be absorbed. With this, the staff costs would be almost 50 per cent of the operating expenditure of the Railways

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Train crushes five bikes, derails in Ghaziabad

Ghaziabad, Dec 27 : A train's engine and five coaches derailed after five motorcycles were crushed under it at a railway crossing in Ghaziabad, police said. No one was injured.

The bikes were reduced to mangled steel by the New Delhi-bound Shramjeevi Express, coming from Patna, at Kotgaon crossing around 11.25 a. m. The vehicle owners had a narrow escape.

"Barring the five bogeys that had derailed, the remaining 13 out of a total of 18 were sent to the destination station after shifting the remaining passengers in them," a Railway Protection Force (RPF) official said. No one was injured in the incident.

The official said the bikes were cut into pieces after being hit by the train while their owners were trying to cross the tracks.

Railway engineering officials and RPF personnel rushed to the spot, about half a kilometre from Ghaziabad railway station. (IANS

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Now, a pro-acquisition stir by Trinamool

HOWRAH: Mamata Banerjee staged a dharna for landlosers in Singur in 2008. Her followers took to the same tactic at Howrah's Sankrail on Tuesday, but this time in support of a railway project and not really in favour of the landlosers.

Interestingly, like the CPM in Singur, Trinamool Congress leaders namely, district president Arup Roy and local MLA Sital Sardar took out a rally under party banner in the Abada area before coming to the meeting place. They urged upon the local farmers to thwart the "CPM's anti-development stance" and played the employment card as the CPM did in Singur.

"I would urge upon the landlosers to foil the CPM conspiracy at any cost," said Trinamool Howrah president Arup Roy. Sital Sardar ruled out the demand for compensation at existing market rates. "The railways did not acquire the land. The state government did it. If the landlosers have any grouse, they should launch a stir against the state government. The railways can't commit any compensation package now It may consider your case," said Sardar. Sardar sounded like the CPM leaders elsewhere in the state where the state government acquire land for industry.

CPM district secretary Biplab Majumdar, however, had all his sympathies to the demonstrators. "We have been raising the issue since 2009. The railways kept the farmland unutilised since 1982. It's the same party that has politicised the issue by coming to the fore with a party flag. We want the railways to engage land labourers from the Citu affiliated Mutia Majdoor Union to do the unloading of the fly ash, while landlosers may be given the job of land filling," he said.

Landlosers are a divided lot. They do not want to get into party politics. Sensing the mood, the Krishi Jami Jibon O Jibika Raksha Committee comprising mainly Congress and Trinamool supporters in the area has distanced itself from the political wrestling. "We want better compensation rates and financial rehabilitation package from the railways," said Committee president Sheikh Mohammed Siddique.




Congress to boycott railway show

BEHRAMPORE: The Murshidabad district Congress has decided to boycott Wednesday's railway programme in Sagardighi. The decision was taken on Tuesday, a day after a heated exchange between district Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury and Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee over a perceived snub to the former after he was reportedly not invited to the programme.

The high-profile railway programme, in Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's Jangipur constituency, had been billed as a cementing of the Congress-Trinamool Mahajot. Under the circumstances, Tuesday's decision by the district Congress is a rather strong statement, especially in the run-up to the 2011 assembly polls.

"Congress will boycott Wednesday's Sagardighi programme," said district Congress spokesman Ashoke Das on Tuesday. "Kalyan Banerjee", he said, "has used filthy language against Adhir Chowdhury, who is widely known as Bengal's foremost and best anti-Left leader. Banerjee has attacked the very person because of whom opposition leaders are inspired to fight the Left Front. The people of Murshidabad and the district Congress will not allow this and we will boycott the programme".

Though Chowdhury did not announce the boycott himself, observers felt that it would have been quite impossible for Das to do so without tacit consent or instructions from the district Congress president.

On Monday, Chowdhury had announced his decision not only to skip the railway event, but also to organize a rail roko at Behrampore on Wednesday to protest the railways minister's "apathy" towards the district.

The district Congress strongman also had a personal grouse. "The railway authorities did not invite me. I am not going to attend the foundation stone ceremony at Sagardighi," he had said on Monday morning.

The rattled railway authorities responded by issuing an invitation through the Howrah divisional railway manager (DRM), who put through a personal call to Chowdhury. But Chowdhury had put his foot down. "The DRM Howrah called me in the evening after I aired my views but I declined his request to attend the programme. I think it's a dishonour to an MP," Chowdhury had said.

This prompted Kalyan Banerjee to take a pot shot at Chowdhury. "He is angry because the DRM invited him, and not the GM (general manager). To get the GM to invite him, he would have to contact Sonia Gandhi and become a minister. Why doesn't he join hands with CPM and fight the election?"

Though Chowdhury announced a rail roko on Wednesday morning near Behrampore Court station, demanding a railway overbridge, he did not forget to inaugurate the Kamada Kinkar Mukhopadhyaya Football tournament in the Behrampore zone, in memory of the finance minister's father, at Behrampore Square field on Tuesday morning.

District Trinamool president Subrata Saha said: "It is quite clear that Mamata Banerjee is trying to develop the backward Murshidabad district through her ministry. We are sure people are conscious that Chowdhury is resisting such development works. What does he expect? Congress is fearing losing ground here."




Sunday, December 12, 2010

Indira Gandhi National Open University Lanuches Course for Central Government Employees



IGNOU launches course for central government staff



A new course for government employees in the country was launched Thursday by the Indira Gandhi National Open University ( IGNOU) and the training division of department of personnel and training (DoPT), an official said.



The new programme is called ‘Distance and E-Learning Programme for Government Employees’ (DELPGE) for which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between IGNOU and the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and the DoPT.

‘The main objective of DELPGE is to increase the availability and flexibility of options open to employees for enhancing their knowledge and skills in order to improve the functioning of government organisations and the delivery of services to the public,’ said an official of the IGNOU.

The programme includes a masters programme in distance and e-learning, post-graduate advanced diploma, post-graduate diploma and diploma programmes in the subject, among others.

Open to central government employees working in ministries, departments, attached offices and the faculty members of state apex training institutions, the number of seats for each programme is 50.

IGNOU is one of the world’s largest open universities which provides education to 1.5 million students.

CS (MA) Rules, 1944 – Reimbursement of expenditure involved on emergent cases for the treatment taken at private nursing home/clinic – Regarding

Government of India
Ministry of Communications & IT
Department of Posts
Dak Bhavan, Sansad Marg
New Delhi – 110116

No. 6-1/2006-Medical
Dated – 27th October, 2010

To,
All recognized Unions/Associations of Department of Posts

Sub: - CS (MA) Rules, 1944 – Reimbursement of expenditure involved in emergent cases for the treatment taken at private nursing home/clinic – Delegation of powers – reg.

Sir,
I am directed to forward herewith a copy of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi O.M. No. S-14025/46/92-MS dated 4-2-1993 on the above subject for your information/guidelines and necessary action.

(Mahendra Kumar)
Assistant Director General (Medical)




No. S-14025/46/92-MS
Government of India
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi – 110011

Dated the 4th February, 1993

Office Memorandum

Subject – CS (MA) Rules, 1944 – Reimbursement of expenditure involved on emergent cases for the treatment taken at private nursing home/clinic – Delegation of powers – Regarding.

The undersigned is directed to say that under the CS (MA) Rules, 1944, vide Miscellaneous Important Decisions No. 5 under Section VII of the compilation of the CS (MA) Rules and further modified vide O.Ms. No. S-14012/9/75-MC (MS) dated 23.2.77, 7.5.79 and 18.6.82, powers have been delegated to the Heads of Departments to allow reimbursement of the medical claims in respect of the treatment obtained under emergency at private hospitals, as distinct from private nursing home/private clinic, subject to item-wise ceilings as per the rates prescribed in the Annexure to the O.Ms. referred to above without any financial limit on the total amount to be reimbursed.

2. However, although the broad guidelines provided in para 1 (iv) of the O.M. dated 18.6.82 referred to above are only indicative and not exhaustive, a large number of cases are being referred to this Ministry/Dte. G.H.S. for seeking relaxation of the rules stating that the hospital is not run on ‘No profit and No Loss Basis’, which otherwise could have been settled by the concerned Department under the delegated powers.

3. It has now been decided by the Government that in order to eliminate the confusion regarding distinction between the private hospital and a private nursing home Clinic, the delegated powers referred to above are applicable to all private medical institutions without making any distinction between a private hospital and a private nursing home/clinic.

4. the medical claims for specialized treatment for heart diseases, kidney transplantation, etc. may be settled as per the schedule of rates approved for the treatment of C.G.H.S beneficiaries from time to time at private recognized hospitals under that Scheme or the actual charges, whichever is less, and all other cases may be settled as per the item wise ceilings prescribed in the Annexure to the O.Ms. referred to above. No. references should be made to this Ministry/Dte. G.H.S. in the matter for further relaxation of the Rules and may be settled by the concerned Ministry/Department.

5. In this connection it may be reiterated that as already stated in para (iii) of the O.M. dated 18.6.82 referred to above, reimbursement of expenses incurred on treatment obtained in the private clinics/nursing homes of the Authorised Medical Attendants would not be admissible under the above provisions and also in relaxation of the CS(MA) Rules even in emergent cases.

6. All pending cases may be decided accordingly, However, the cases which are already settled or decided, may not be re-opened.

7. This issues with the concurrence of the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare vide their U.O. No. 272/92 P& PW (K) dated 19.10.1992 and the Ministry of Finance Deptt. Of Expenditure) vide their U.O. No. 1441/E.V/92 dated 17.11.1992.

8. In so far as persons serving in the Indian Audit and Accounts Deptts. are concerned, this issues with the concurrence of the office of the comptroller and Auditor General of India vide their U.O. No. 27-Audit-I/72-90, dated 25.1.1993.

Sd/-
(Braham Dev)
Under Secretary to the Govt. of India

Sunday, December 5, 2010

China Grabs Supercomputing Leadership Spot in Latest Ranking of World’s Top 500 Supercomputers

MANNHEIM, Germany; BERKELEY, Calif.; and KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—The 36th edition of the closely watched TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers confirms the rumored takeover of the top spot by the Chinese Tianhe-1A system at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, achieving a performance level of 2.57 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second).

News of the Chinese system’s performance emerged in late October. As a result, the former number one system — the Cray XT5 “Jaguar” system at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee — is now ranked in second place. Jaguar achieved 1.75 petaflop/s running Linpack, the TOP500 benchmark application.

Third place is now held by a Chinese system called Nebulae, which was also knocked down one spot from the June 2010 TOP500 list with the appearance of Tianhe-1A. Located at the National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen, Nebulae performed at 1.27 petaflop/s.

Tsubame 2.0 at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is number four; having achieved a performance of 1.19 petaflop/s. Tsubame is the only Japanese machine in the TOP10.

At number five is Hopper, a Cray XE6 system at DOE’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center in California. Hopper just broke the petaflop/s barrier with 1.05 petaflop/s, making it the second most powerful system in the U.S. and only the third U.S. machine to achive petaflop/s performance.

Of the Top 10 systems, seven achieved performance at or above 1 petaflop/s. Five of the systems in the Top 10 are new to the list. Of the Top 10, five are in the United States and the others are in China, Japan, France, and Germany. The most powerful system in Europe is a Bull system at the French CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives or Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission), ranked at number six.

The full TOP500 list and accompanying analysis will be discussed at a special Nov. 17 session at the SC10 Conference on High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis being held Nov. 13-19 in New Orleans, La.

Accelerating Performance

The two Chinese systems and Tsubame 2.0 are all using NVIDIA GPUs (graphics processing units) to accelerate computation. In all, 17 systems on the TOP500 use GPUs as accelerators, with 6 using the Cell processor, ten of them using NVIDIA chips and one using ATI Radeon chips.

China is also accelerating its move into high performance computing and now has 42 systems on the TOP500 list, moving past Japan, France, Germany and the UK to become the number two country behind the U.S.

Geographical Shifts

Although the U.S. remains the leading consumer of HPC systems with 275 of the 500 systems, this number is down from 282 in June 2010. The European share – 124 systems, down from 144 — is still substantially larger than the Asian share (84 systems — up from 57). Dominant countries in Asia are China with 42 systems (up from 24), Japan with 26 systems (up from 18), and India with four systems (down from five).

In Europe, Germany and France caught up with the UK, which dropped from the No. 1 European nation from 38 six months ago to 24 on the newest list. Germany and France passed the UK and now have 26 and 25 systems each, although France is down from 29 and Germany is up 24 systems compared to six months ago.

Other Highlights from the Latest List

· Cray Inc., the U.S. firm which was long synonymous with supercomputing, has regained the number two spot in terms of market share measured in performance, moving ahead of HP, but still trailing IBM. Cray’s XT and XE systems remain very popular for big research customers, four of which are in the Top 10.

· HP is still ahead of Cray measured in the number of systems, and both are trailing IBM.

· Intel dominates the high-end processor market, with 79.6 percent (398) of all systems using Intel processors, although this is slightly down from six months ago (406 systems, 81.2 percent).

· Intel is now followed by the AMD Opteron family with 57 systems (11.4 percent), up from 47. The share of IBM Power processors is slowly declining with now 40 systems (8.0 percent), down from 42.

· Quad-core processors are used in 73 percent (365) of the systems, while 19 percent (95 systems) are already using processors with six or more cores.

In Just Six Months

· The entry level to the list moved up to 31.1 teraflop/s (trillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark, compared to 24.7 Tflop/s six months ago.

· The last-ranked system on the newest list was listed at position 305 in the previous TOP500 just six months ago. This turnover rate is about average after the rather low replacement rate six months ago.

· Total combined performance of all 500 systems has grown to 44.2 Pflop/s, compared to 32.4 Pflop/s six months ago and 27.6 PFlop/s one year ago.

Some Final Notes on Power Consumption

Just as the TOP500 List has emerged as a standardized indicator of performance and architecture trends since it was created 18 years ago, the list now tracks actual power consumption of supercomputers in a consistent fashion. Although power consumption is increasing, the computing efficiency of the systems is also improving. Here are some power consumption notes from the newest list.

· Only 25 systems on the list are confirmed to use more than 1 megawatt (MW) of power.

· IBM’s prototype of the new BlueGene/Q system set a new record in power efficiency with a value of 1,680 Mflops/watt, more than twice that of the next best system.

· Average power consumption of a TOP500 system is 447 kilowatts (KW) and average power efficiency is 195 Mflops/watt (up from 150 Mflops/watt one year ago).

· Average power consumption of a TOP10 system is slowly raising with now 3.2 MW (up from 2.89 MW six month ago) and average power efficiency is 268 Mflops/watt, down from 300 Mflops/watt six month ago.

About the TOP500 List

The TOP500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Running Staff Tax Free Mileage Limit increased to Rs.10000/- w.e.f. 01-09-2008

Personal expenditure Allowance to transport system employee's exemption Increased

As per Income tax Act section 10(14) exemption limit of various allowances has been prescribed under rule 2BB of income tax rules. One of them is allowance to transport system employee to meet personal expenditure during his duty performance.
Present rule is given as under
Allowance description: Any allowance granted to an employee working in any transport system to meet his personal expenditure during his duty performed in the course of running of such transport from one place to another place, provided that such employee is not in receipt of daily allowance
Exempted Amount :70 % of the allowance subject to
`.6000/- Maximum


Now as per Income-tax (Eighth Amendment) Rules, 2010 - Amendment in Rule 2BB vide NOTIFICATION NO. 85/2010 [F. NO. 149/45/2010-SO (TPL)], DATED 22-11-2010 the maximum amount has been increased to
` 10000/- with effect from 01.09.2008 (retrospectively effected)


complete Notification is given below:
Income-tax (Eighth Amendment) Rules, 2010 - Amendment in Rule 2BB
NOTIFICATION NO. 85/2010

[F. NO. 149/45/2010-SO (TPL)], DATED 22-11-2010
In exercise of the powers conferred by section 295 read with clause (14) of section 10 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961), the Central Board of Direct Taxes hereby makes the following rule further to amend Income-tax Rules, 1962, namely :—
1. (1) These Rule may be called the Income-tax (Eighth Amendment) Rules, 2010.
(2) They shall be deemed to have come into force
retrospectively with effect from 1st day of September, 2008.
2. In the Income-tax Rules, 1962, in rule 2BB, in sub-rule (2), in the Table, against serial number 4, in column 4, for letters, figures and words “`. 6,000 per month” the letters, figures and words, `. 10,000 per month” shall be substituted.

Railways catering policy hangs fire

PATNA: The railways has now adopted a new catering policy to provide better catering service to passengers on running trains.

According to a Railway Board official, though the railways had introduced the new policy from July 21, 2010, in a few zones of railways, the policy is yet to be implemented in other zones of the railways. The railways is serious about improving catering services on running trains in the larger interest of the passengers, he said.

The policy is yet to be implemented fully in all five divisions of East Central Railway (ECR) as the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is yet to hand over the charge of catering services to these divisions. The Board official told TOI that the railways has set up a monitoring mechanism at divisional and zonal level to keep a tab on the quality of meals being served to the passengers. A team of railway officials have been asked to carry on food inspection on running trains in all mail and express trains. The railways has formed a cell at the Board level through which a strict monitoring is to be maintained in each division and zone, he said.

According to sources, the railways has decided to set up base kitchens at all important stations across the country to cook fresh and hygiene meals for passengers on running trains. Efforts are on to provide meals to passengers on running trains at the most reasonable and affordable price. Besides, the railways has given priority to quality, hygiene and economy of meals, sources said.

Stung by frequent complaints about poor quality of food, the railways has decided to strip the IRCTC of its responsibility to provide catering services on running trains across the country.

According to an ECR official, the IRCTC has been providing catering services in about 22 mail and express trains under the ECR. Out of this, the IRCTC has handed over the charge of catering services of only two trains to the railways. Thus, the catering services on running trains are still being served by IRCTC or its licensed agencies in ECR, he said, adding IRCTC has, however, handed over stalls of different stations to the railways.

Meanwhile, several passengers travelling by the Patna-New Delhi Rajdhani Express recently complained about poor quality of food served to them by the IRCTC. They urged railway officials concerned to ensure supply of better quality of food at least in a premier train like Rajdhani Express.




Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thar Express escapes blast near Karachi

Updated at 430 PST Saturday, December 04, 2010
KARACHI: A bid to explode Thar Express went in vain as the blast could only result in derailment of two compartments of rail at Dhabeji place near Karachi, Geo News reported Friday night.

According to details, explosives were planted at the up-track en-route to India from Karachi near Dhabeji but after the explosion, two compartments of Thar Express – a Pakistani train, derailed.

No loss of life or injury was reported in the mishap, sources said.

According to Geo News correspondent, Pakistan Railways said after completion of repairing work at rail track, the service would soon be resumed while the train service at down track remained uninterrupted.

It is pertinent to mention here that two compartments of Thar Express train, heading to India from Karachi Cantt. Station, derailed at Dhabeji place, 67 kilometers from Karachi late on Friday night after explosion at track.

There are 155 passengers including 105 Pakistanis and 50 Indian nationals on board.

Thar Express set out on journey at 11:55pm from Karachi and was an hour late due to unknown reasons.

Geo News team, rescuers, Railways and police officials, after having arrived at incident site, confirmed to Geo News that the mishap took place by dint of explosives planted at railway track which were aimed at hitting Thar Express.

Police and bomb disposal squad have seized parts of damaged rail track and explosives found from blast scene.

Investigations have been kicked off, police said

Friday, December 3, 2010

Meeting of General Secretaries and CWC will be held at Nagpur on January 22 to discuss stock of situation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Today-02.12.10, Secretary General Com. MN Prasad, Com NB Dutta, Joint Secretary General, Com. Jeet Singh Tank, Treasurer and Com. Ram Saran LP Mail/NDLS met Minister of State for Labour Sri Harish Rawath. He heard our demands and justification. Immediately he ordered the concerned authority over phone to refer the Case to tribunal for Adjudication and ask his PA to put up the file by tomorrow for written order.

Central Leaders along with Secretary General Com. MN Prasad met Secretary Minister of Labour and Desk Officer Sri Ajay Kumar Gauk on 1st December at New Delhi and submitted our Memorandum, and requested to direct the matter for Adjudication. They informed that the matter is referred to Railway Board for their REMARK. After receiving the remark from Railway Board , Labour Ministry will take appropriate decision. Since the Minister for Labour is on visit to South Africa, Com. MNP trying to meet with Minister of State for Labour Sri Harish Rawath .



Wednesday, December 1, 2010



THE OTHER HALF

Unsafe for women?

KALPANA SHARMA

Improvements in infrastructure should make cities safer for women. Delhi is the exception to the rule…

I f you visit Delhi after a spell away from it, there are several things that strike you. First, the number of buses – green buses running at regular intervals. Then, the bus stops. Well-lit, with bus numbers clearly written on them. Then, the pavements, at least in South Delhi, that have suddenly become walkable. And of course, the Metro, which even people who never considered using public transport are now actually using.

A city with a good public transport system is considered not just a more liveable city, and greener city, but also a safer city, especially for women. So has the infrastructure of Delhi changed the culture of the city so that women feel safe?

Not if you listen to what a former Miss India and Bollywood actor Gul Panag has to say. After participating in the Delhi Half Marathon on November 21, here is what she told the media: “Delhi men won't let go of any opportunity to eve-tease or behave indecently. The people's mindset has not changed despite hosting a mega event like Commonwealth Games in October and it is definitely not an ideal place for women.”

After complaining about men trying to grope her as she ran the Half Marathon, Ms. Panag went on to say, “I had thought that Delhi would have undergone a change in its attitude towards women in the seven years that I have been away but it continues to be unsafe. I am not sure if they knew who I was but the fact that they misbehaved shows the attitude of the men in the city which needs to change drastically.”

Ms. Panag's statement brings out several important issues. First, that improvements in infrastructure, an important first step in making cities safer and better, are not enough. Cultural and attitudinal changes have to follow, a far more difficult challenge.

Changing mindsets

In fact, the Delhi government has made an attempt at tackling these attitudes, particularly in the men who run and manage the public services. Delhi is the only city in India where the state government has been responsive to a campaign by a women's group, Jagori, to make the city safer for women. It has held a dialogue with this group on how this can be done, cooperated in holding a safety audit, heeded advice on public transport and on street lighting and involved them in training bus conductors and drivers and even the police so that they can be more responsive to the problems women face in the public space.

Delhi's Minister for Women and Child Development, Dr. Kiran Walia, spoke at a conference on “Building Inclusive Cities” organised by Jagori and Women in Cities International earlier this week in the capital. She described, for instance, the difficulty she had in convincing the Delhi Metro to introduce special compartments for women. She argued that this was essential because crowded public transport was the site of some of the greatest instances of harassment that women experienced. She cited Mumbai, where all trains have women's compartments and there are even only-women specials during rush hour, to push her point.

She was first told that separate women's compartments in the Metro were simply not feasible. And finally when they were created, apparently men in some stations through which the Metro passed physically prevented women from entering these compartments! Yet another example of how infrastructure changes do not guarantee a change in attitudes.

So Delhi, with the huge investment of funds that has gone into making it a better city, remains unsafe for women. Not just for women like Ms. Panag, who could insulate themselves from the dangers and never need to rub shoulders with potential harassers but for the millions of women who have no choice but to use public transport and public spaces to survive each day they live in the city. Indeed, the very process of “improving” the city has made the lives of women at the opposite end of the class spectrum from Ms. Panag even more difficult.

Greater stress

Take domestic workers, for instance. In the effort to transform Delhi, thousands of poor people have been pushed beyond city limits to colonies where the public transport system is nowhere near as good as it has now become in the city. Yet, the women who work in the homes of the rich and the middle class in Delhi have no option but to commute in overcrowded buses and tolerate daily harassment because they must hang on to their jobs. Their resettlement colonies do not give them other job options to eliminate the need to commute. Thus improving a city at the cost of laying greater burdens on the shoulders of those who already live at the margins is clearly not the ideal solution.

Ms. Walia also spoke of women's “defecation right”. She pointed out that a crucial part of building a safer city was to ensure that women had access to sanitation. She recounted how women living in slums feared visiting public toilets — where the caretaker was a man — as these were sites of molestation and even rape, especially of young women. So a superficial improvement by way of fancy bus stops, flyovers, airport or a Metro should not detract from more basic components that make cities safer for all it residents. For women, access to sanitation is a crucial part of this.

The concept of inclusive cities articulated at this meeting was, in fact, an important one for India as it races ahead with urbanisation. By 2050, every other Indian will be living in a town or a city. What shape will our cities take by then? Will they continue to be examples of poor planning exacerbated by high levels of corruption that distort land use regulations? Of inefficient implementation of almost every infrastructure project? Of absence of environmental concern? And of projects that divide the city and cater only to the rich? Or is it still not too late to reconsider the basis on which plans are made, to infuse urban planning with an awareness of women's need for safety and security in the public space, to design an urban future that is democratic, equitable and inclusive?

Karnataka high-speed rail plan hits legal roadblock

A high-speed rail link (HSRL) project connecting Bangalore to its new international airport, proposed at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore and intended to reduce commuting time from the present one hour to 20 minutes, has hit speed breakers over the legal framework the project is to be implemented under. In 2006, the Karnataka government proposed to implement the project under the Mysore Tramway Act 1905, but with the new airport located outside the jurisdiction of the city corporation or the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike, where the Act is not applicable, the government has been forced to stall the project indefinitely while it pursues a legal resolution.

Despite being ready in August this year to issue request for proposals (RFP) to five shortlisted consortia to act on the detailed project report prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the government has now asked the shortlisted consortia to wait for legal hurdles to be cleared to begin the RFP process.

Railways on guard against accidents

KOLKATA: With assembly elections round the corner, railway minister Mamata Banerjee can't afford to take chances. Neither can senior railway officials in charge of operations. One more accident, like the one in Sainthia, can set back the Trinamool Congress' prospects. To prevent this, a number of measures have been taken. While senior Eastern Railway officials, from all departments, have been directed to travel in drivers' cabins of passenger train locomotives, inspection staff are paying surprise visits to level crossing gates and signal cabins and also keeping tabs on the activities of gangmen.

"Inspection used to be held earlier as well. However, officials used to travel by train and stay put at stations. Though such inspections were supposed to remain a secret for lower-level operating staff, information would get leaked. Everybody would be at their posts in proper uniform to establish to the inspection team that everything is in order. Nowadays, officials are travelling by road to a particular location and carrying out surprise checks. Even mid-ranking staff at stations are not aware that an inspection has been planned," a senior ER official said.

Such inspections in the last few weeks have yielded results and a number of railway staff have been showcaused. More importantly, it has resulted in staff remaining alert at all times. News has spread like wildfire that any car stopping at a level crossing gate or beside the railway tracks could be carrying officials from the divisional headquarters.

"I was manning a level crossing gate in the Sealdah division when an inspection was carried out. Around midnight, a car stopped at the gate. I did not pay much attention at first as the gate was closed and a number of other vehicles were also waiting. Suddenly, two gentlemen accompanied by a Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable walked into my room and demanded to see all documents. After going through everything, they were happy. Later, my immediate seniors told me that the officials had praised me," a gateman said.

Officials, after checking records at level crossing gates, are walking along the tracks to check whether gangmen are alert. They are also entering signal cabins and checking documents and panels. Even stations are under the scanner. Surprise visits are being paid to check whether station staff are alert and responsive.

"Not only is this process keeping lower-level staff on their toes, even senior officials are getting a better idea of the people working under them and the problem areas. Earlier, there was little scope for this as everything would be in order by the team arrived," an official said.

Rly mishap raises many queries


Express News Service

30 Nov 2010

Last Updated :

BHUBANESWAR: THE derailment of Kharagpur Khurda Road fast passenger continues to raise questions about the coordination (or lack of it) among the different wings of the railways.

While junior engineer Dhiren Kumar who was carrying out the repair work has come under fire for his negligence, the role of the assistant station master at the Sarakantara block halt is under scanner too.

It is now clear that the repair work was being carried out without the knowledge of the operating wing but what is baffling is the site of the work was barely a few metres from the Sarakantra block halt cabin where the ASM is posted. Besides, there is a manned level crossing with a gate keeper.

How the repair escaped their notice and a green signal was given to the train is the main question. In fact, the gate keeper was given instruction to close the gate since a train was approaching. This was done despite the fact that the work was on.

Sources said, the JE may have taken verbal permission for the work and went ahead with the repair with the knowledge of the ASM. "Both agreed to the repair under the impression that the work would be wound up very soon without any requirement for blocking but it did not go their way," said a source.

Interestingly, the train driver Babaji Bandha, whose account led to lodging of an FIR with Government Railway Police, may not actually have applied emergency brakes as he claimed. For a speed control sign was put up at about 800 metre from the affected site since track maintenance work had been carried out on the Retang Sarakantara stretch a few days back. The graph reading will show if the driver applied normal brake or an emergency one, sources said.

Meanwhile, the East Coast Railways was yet to name the members of the panel which would inquire into the November 25 incident.

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