A lot of business travel could take place with improvements in the Railway services and this would lead to reduced use of air traffic and consequent savings in fuel costs
An investor’s meet has been scheduled by the Railway Ministry Friday to discuss a variety of investment issues that would have far reaching ramifications on the development plans on the anvil in the Railway sector. This is expected to cover both FDI and PPP. According to information available, Texmaco Rail and Engineering, Titagarh Wagons and Kalindee Rail Nirman Engineers will be joined by financial' majors like HSBC, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan along with advisory firms like Deloitte and PwC.
It is expected that this meet will focus on investments through both FDI and PPP.
It may be recalled that, couple of months ago, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board had considered 35 proposals of which 21 were cleared. At that time, it was chaired by Arvind Mayaram. Whether it is through FDI or PPP, investment needs in the Railways are a must for its development.
Before we go into the large infrastructural needs that the Railways would require, or the modernisation plans such as the introduction or setting up high speed tracks and bullet trains, there is a lot of home work that needs to be done to make FDI feel that it is worthwhile for them to pour in their resources.
It looks like a beginning is being made by the Railway Board which has plans to have private agencies to do, on a 3-year maintenance contracts, covering the initially selected 50 Railway stations. These will include New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai Central, Varanasi and Howrah (Kolkata). In case of Mumbai, it will also cover Bandra Terminus and along with Chennai Central, it will include Egmore station as well. Why Sealdah, (Kolkata's 2nd station) one of the world's busiest railway stations has been omitted, is not clear!
Broadly speaking, to keep the Stations clean, the maintenance contract is expected to cover rag picking, disinfection of the area, pest and rodent control, garbage collection, segregation of waste (it should be dry and wet waste separately) and disposal of the same.
Railway Board has already issued, according the press reports, the guidelines to constituent railway zones to invite tenders to engage professional help to keep the stations clean. It appears that the maintenance contract will also cover key station areas, such as tracks, platforms, building concourses, approach roads and parking areas.
It may be noted that cleaning jobs are already outsourced and Railway employee unions are not bothered and the General Secretary of All India Railwaymen's Federation, Shiv Gopal Mishra is reported to have said: "that the contractors should not exploit people employed in such jobs".
In the meantime, it is gratifying to note that the Railway Authorities in Mysuru station have actually begun to actively apply the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2nd October. Littering in stations, spitting and other similar dirty habits will mean on the spot fines!
Along with the infrastructural developments, imagine a situation, in a span of 5 to 7 years, if we have high speed tracks and bullet trains, covering from New Delhi to Chennai, Ahmedabad to Mumbai, Bangalore to Mumbai, Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Kolkata with some of them stopping at key cities like Hyderabad, and operating them at night, a lot of business travel could take place, with reduced use of air traffic and savings in high fuel costs!
This may not be a pipe dream and could be achieved in 10 years at best, if work is taken on hand simultaneously!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
SEBI said its probe found these entities involved in artificially inflating price of Moryo Industries' scrip to Rs225 from Rs93.4 during January 2013 and August 2014
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has barred 91 entities including Moryo Industries, its promoters Mohan Jain and Deepika Mohan Jain, four directors of the company and 84 other preferential allottees from markets.
SEBI said its probe found these entities involved in artificially inflating price of Moryo Industries' scrip to Rs225 from Rs93.4 during January 2013 and August 2014 in two patches. The ex-parte interim order comes into effect immediately pending detailed investigation.
Observing substantial trading among themselves by related entities in the Moryo scrip, SEBI analysed the trading frequency, volume generated, buying behaviour and contribution to the price rise. Inter-relationships were ascertained using KYC details, bank statements, off-market transactions among themselves and information available on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website.
The new rules provide that e-rickshaw will be allowed to carry four passengers and 40 kg luggage while e-carts would transport goods up to 310 kg
The Indian government on Friday approved relaxation in norms for e-rickshaw drivers, paving the way for the battery-operated vehicles to ply on national capital roads, which were banned by the Delhi High Court on safety concerns.
"Cabinet has approved relaxation in norms for driving licences for e-rickshaw drivers," a source said after the Cabinet meeting.
"The norms have been relaxed for issuing licences for e-rickshaw drivers. The provision that no person shall be granted a learner's licence to drive a commercial vehicle unless he or she has held a driving licence for light motor vehicle for at least one year has been waived," another source said.
E-rickshaw is a legal entity and any driver passing the driving test would now be granted a licence, he added.
The government in October had notified the rules for plying of e-rickshaws making driver's licence mandatory for operating them and limiting the maximum speed to 25 km per hour.
The government had notified the Central Motor Vehicles (Sixteenth Amendment) Rules, 2014, which paves the way for plying of 'special purpose battery operated vehicles'.
The new rules provide that e-rickshaw will be allowed to carry four passengers and 40 kg luggage while e-carts would transport goods up to 310 kg.
The Delhi High Court had on 31st July banned plying of e-rickshaws on the roads of the national capital saying 'prima facie they are a hazard to other traffic as well as citizens'.
The rules define E-rickshaw as a special purpose battery operated vehicle 'having three wheels and intended to provide last mile connectivity for transport of passengers for hire or reward'.
These vehicles are "constructed or adapted to carry not more than four passengers, excluding the driver, and not more than 40 kgs luggage in total; the net power of its motor is not more than 2,000 W and the maximum speed of the vehicle is not more than 25 kilometre per hour".
"Every driving licence issued or renewed by a licensing authority to drive an e-rickshaw or e-cart shall be valid for a period of not more than three years from the date of issue, as the case may be, or till the validity of the driving licence, whichever is earlier," the notification has said.
Last month Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said the government was serious about resumption of battery- operated vehicles on Delhi roads.