Friday, June 12, 2015

Worried railway board ‘dodges’ comment on panel report

NEW DELHI: The railway board seems uncomfortable with the Bibek Debroy committee's recommendations and failed to even give its comments on the interim report submitted by the panel. The committee has finalized its report and is likely to submit it to the board on Friday after incorporating comments and suggestions from passengers, experts and railways unions.

"We got comments from across the spectrum. But it was amazing that the board failed to com ment," said a panel member.

The members are miffed with the board for it failed to cooperate on meeting government deadline for submitting the final report. The Centre is keen on launching reforms in the national transporter's functioning as part of its strategy to revive economic growth. "We're ready with the report. But senior board officials want its submission delayed. They were trying to delay the submission till June-end," another committee member told TOI.

The panel has suggested a drastic revamp of the railway board that could lead to decentralization of powers, which has made board officials jittery.

As per the recommendations, the railway ministry would formulate broad policy guidelines. The zones and divisions have to become independent business centres.

The panel suggests that the board will have little to do with day-to-day operations and can function as a corporate board. The head of the zone (general manager) must be fully empowered to take all decisions without referring them to the board. The railway board should function like a corporate board for the railways. The railway board chairman chairman should be like a CEO. HeShe is not first among equals and should have powers of final decision-making and veto (in case of a divided view).

The suggested composition of the revamped board would include member (traction & rolling stock), member (passenger & freight business), member (HR & stores), member (finance & PPP), member (infrastructure) and two outside and independent experts. It said member (finance & PPP) and member (HR & stores) needn't necessarily be from within the railways system. Lateral induction from outside shouldn't be ruled out.


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