“Railways failed to improve mobility outcomes despite Rs 2.5 trn investment”

Despite investing Rs 2.5 lakh crore in track infrastructure in the 2008-19 financial year, the railways failed to improve their mobility performance, the CAG said in its latest report and removed the national carrier for avoidable expenses.

In the report submitted to Parliament on Wednesday, India’s Comptroller and Auditor General said the railways’ “Mission Raftaar” program had also failed to propel trains onto the fast track.

“Indian Railways, despite investing Rs 2.5 lakh crore in track infrastructure in 2008-19, failed to improve mobility outcomes. The Raftaar mission introduced in 2016-17 aimed for a speed average of 50 km/h for mail/express and 75 km/h for freight trains by 2021-22 The observed average speed of mail/express and freight trains through 2019-20 was however still d ‘approximately 50.6 km/h and 23.6 km/h, respectively,’ the CAG said.

He also said that out of 478 ultra-fast trains, the predicted speed of 123, or 26%, was below the specified 55 km/h.

“Six major internal critical factors contributing to 66% of total train detention were identified as controllable. Indian Railways has no guaranteed delivery time for dispatching goods. freight train operation,” he said.

The CAG also said that Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) could not fully utilize the World Bank fund resulting in the payment of avoidable commitment fees of Rs 16 crore.

“No maintenance facilities have been established by DFCCIL. Out of a total of 4,844 km of roads, only 2,346 km (48%) of feeder roads have been upgraded through November 2020. DFCCIL has engaged avoidable expenses of Rs 285.21 crore during the land acquisition process,” the report said.

He also indicated that the progress of the project has been affected due to a delay in the awarding of contracts.

“There has also been a delay in the appointment of consultants of up to 32 months. The DFCCIL incurred additional avoidable expenditure of Rs 2,233.81 crore till March 2021 due to price escalation. This was due to the delay in completing the project,” he said.

The national auditor also raised the issue of unnecessary and avoidable expenses incurred by the railways. The railways had incurred avoidable expenses of Rs 968.73 crore for purchasing power from Bhartiya Rail Bijlee Company Limited (BRBCL).

“These avoidable expenses include Rs 463.30 crore for fixed capacity charges and Rs 505.43 crore due to a misguided decision to terminate the power purchase agreement with TATA Power-Distribution and purchasing electricity from BRBCL at a higher rate,” he said.

In addition, he suffered losses of Rs 27.43 crore for failing to collect service tax from contractors.

Northern Railway awarded contracts for the construction of a level separator without guaranteeing clear work sites. Due to encroachments, the work could not be completed even after 10 years from its assent. As a result, capital expenditure of Rs 71.50 crore incurred for the works till March 31, 2021 remained unsuccessful, the report says, highlighting another avoidable expense.

Poor planning of the mid-life coach rehabilitation workshop at Anara in the South Eastern Railway led to the abandonment of the project, which cost the national carrier Rs 8.42 crore, according to the report.

He also pointed to the unsuccessful payment of spectrum fees by PSU RailTel.

“RailTel without utilization returned allocated spectrum. As a result, Rs 13.82 crore spent on spectrum fees became fruitless,” according to the CAG report.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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