Citizens' Issues
‘Every inch of the Konkan Railway line, a part of our psyche’
Bojji Rajaram, one of the founding engineers of the Konkan Railway project, later its managing director and now retired, speaks on Konkan Railway, as it completed 25 years this October.
 
How do you look back at 25 years of Konkan Railway? When you travel by it today, when you pass those stretches of land which you had worked hard on.
 
“Every inch, nook and corner of the 760-km Konkan Railway network system had become part of our psyche. Trials and tribulations marked our lives in construction and no less even in running in the initial years trains like Rajdhani. The formation of tracks was not as mature as it has become now. Then there was the challenge of relocating surplus engineers, making rules for cross discipline cadres, keeping the morale high. This all rushes back as we travel and meet old loving colleagues and friends. A feeling of fulfilment for service to nation, well done, brings tears of joy finally, when one sees happy staff and their children now becoming engineers!” this is how 70-year-old Bojji Rajaram, one of the first engineers to start the Konkan Railway project from scratch, later its managing director and now retired, has to say about the project as it completed 25 years this October.
 
The construction and working methods followed were innovative like you sent engineering survey teams on bikes, set up impromptu offices. The project was ready in seven years. What was the secret?
 
Simple rule is to make the responsibility and authority centre the same. Empowering, at executive level, with a higher degree of trust both in the engineer and the contractor with transparency is important. Contractors are not all thieves, but equal partners and be dealt with respect but dealt very firmly when not up-to the mark. Conviction in what one is doing and courage to stand up for own staff as well as contractor is the hallmark of a good engineer leader of team. The leader and the team should consider audit and vigilance as enabling functions and combine these roles too in own executive functioning. They should stop treating them as adversaries. I used to welcome with open arms to help us do better. The needless fear and conditioned adverse relationship many tend to develop saps energy of the organisation.
 
What do you think is lacking in today's infra projects that keep missing deadlines? The administrative processes of tendering, lowest- bidder etc is delaying everything.
 
Back-seat driving without accountability has destroyed today’s focus on timely completion of projects within budget. Team is what one has to build, with shared values and goals. But if each one thinks he has to somehow spend time without getting in to trouble in the posting, which most probably the officer took for own convenience, then project is doomed. Risk allocation in drafting contracts plays an important part. Rly engineers tend to cover up own lack of professional competence, loading entire risk on contractor.  Many engineer administrators, think award of tender is the solution to an engineering problem, Administrators who tend to load all risk on contractors and everyone else, should change in to risk managers with engineering competence sharing risk too. Matter of courage.
 
That is why to break the administrative culture and to bring back the engineer within to work with own hands, offices for engineers I removed. More web-like flat organisation structure eliminating pyramid command control model was tried. Knowledge took central place and fear banished. The inner full prowess of every individual unleashed. The final story of Pernem tunnel completion, that had been abandoned practically by every international consultant and own Indian stalwarts, symbolises success of this approach; to achieve the impossible.
 
Konkan Railway has been adopting unique finance account systems and has now raised Rs250 crore without help of railway ministry. Can this be replicated on Indian Railways?
 
Yes. Each division on Indian Railways should exactly follow the same commercial account system to report financial results. Then it becomes much better for performance assessment and quality of output from expenditure incurred. Accountability will be better enforced by management at zonal and Board will get much better clarity. It is opaque today.
 
Your inventions of skybus metro and anti-collision device have been world highlights in transport sector, but have remained on paper.
 
The herd mentality to block the unusual or out-of-the-way behaviour/thinking is natural self-survival instinct.

User

COMMENTS

Suvam Sarkar

1 year ago

Konkan Railways have to restart Panaji Sky Bus Metro project to decongest Panji City. if Panaji Sky Bus Metro will built it will also be a tourist attraction like Mumbai monorail.

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

1 year ago

To the architect of Konkan Railway, E. Sreedharan, I had written a letter, that all the tracks alignments, tunnels and bridges of Konkan Railway be constructed in such a way that its double tracking will be easy. Even then Railway Minister George Fernandes in his speech has stated that as soon as Konkan Railway line starts, its double tracking will have to be started, by considering the heavy traffic that will exist on this route. If my suggestion was seriously taken by E Sreedharan then, Konkan Railway would not have faced double tracking difficulty that is is facing now. Out of 760 kms of its track, only 300 kms will be double tracked, since is is not possible to construct additional tunnels and bridges along side of existing track.

Mahesh Krishnamurthy

1 year ago

I remember the day Konkan Railways project was announced by Sri.George Fernandes and the speed with which it was completed. I salute the people involved in the project.
The Bengalooru Namma Metro was vision of Kannada Cine Artist Late.Sri Shankar Nag(Malgudi Days Fame),who wanted the Metro to be introduced way back in 1980's and which is yet to be completed.
As rightly pointed by Sri Bojji Rajaram it is the back seat driving which is rotting our system.
The link about the Late.Sri Shankar Nag.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shankar_Nag

VISWANATHAN K N

1 year ago

Loved it

4 Reasons why compensation for call drops is fair
TRAI should periodically publish results of their audit giving full details of number of subscribers compensated by each telecom operator, and total number of call drops for each operator. 
 
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced that from 1 January 2016, all telecom operators should compensate mobile users in the event of dropped calls. The regulator has concluded that call drops are instances of deficiency in service delivery on the part of telecom operators, which cause inconvenience to the consumers. TRAI has ordered that  telecom companies will have to pay their subscribers Re1 for every call drop they experience on their network, subject to a cap of three call drops a day per user, starting from 1st January next year. 
 
What exactly is the rational for TRAI order?
 
TRAI has explained the rational for issuing this order in an exemplary manner worth repeating here for the benefit of readers: 
 
“After a careful analysis, the Authority has come to the conclusion that call drops are instances of deficiency in service delivery on part of the CMTSPs (Cellular Mobile Telephone Service Providers) which cause inconvenience to the consumers, and hence it would be appropriate to put in place a mechanism for compensating the consumers in the event of dropped calls. 
 
“The Authority is of the opinion that compensatory mechanism should be kept simple for the ease of consumer understanding and its implementation by the CMTSPs. While one may argue that amount of compensation should be commensurate to the loss/ suffering caused due to an event but in case of a dropped call it is difficult to quantify the loss/ suffering/ inconvenience caused to the consumers as it may vary from one consumer to another and also in accordance to their situations. 
 
“Accordingly, the Authority has decided to mandate originating CMTSPs to credit one rupee for a dropped call to the calling consumers as notional compensation. Similarly, the Authority has decided that such credit in the account of the calling consumer shall be limited to three dropped calls in a day (00:00:00 hours to 23:59:59 hours).The Authority is of the view that such a mandate would compensate the consumers for the inconvenience caused due to interruption in service by way of call drops, to a certain extent. 
 
“The Authority is also aware that communication to the consumers is important and therefore, the Authority has decided to mandate that, each originating CMTSP, within four hours of the occurrence of call drop within its network, inform the calling consumer, through SMS/USSD message the details of amount credited in his/her account for the dropped call, if applicable.” 
 
This decision of TRAI is sensible for four reasons:
 
  • 1. Deficiency in service delivery: It is for the first time that any regulator has decided to penalise a service provider for deficiency in service delivery and this augurs well for furthering this concept for the benefit of consumers in all areas of public service.  
  •  
  • 2. Ease of consumer understanding: The instant compensation without having to claim by the consumer is the most adorable concept keeping the whole process simple and easy to understand and implement.
  •  
  • 3. Notional compensation: Any inconvenience caused by the call drop cannot be quantified in terms of money. However, TRAI has now proposed only a notional compensation which only offsets the cost incurred by the consumer due to call drops to some extent and this is a good beginning. 
  •  
  • 4. Communication to the consumer: Communicating to the consumers that the prescribed compensation has been credited to their account within four hours of the call drop is the icing on the cake, giving life to the adage, ‘Customer is King.’ 
 
What are the implications of TRAI order?
 
As on 31 March 2015, the total number of wireless subscribers in India was 96.99 crores ( 969.89 million)  as against the total population of our country estimated at 126.74 crores (1,267.40 million or 1.27 billion)  as on that date. This is almost 76.5% of the country’s population enjoying wireless telecom facility, and it is very apt that the TRAI has considered it expedient to improve service standards of telecom companies affecting such a large number of subscribers.
 
The TRAI order has, therefore, several implications. Firstly, it casts an onerous responsibility on the regulator itself to ensure that the order is implemented by the telecom operations both in letter and in spirit. How this mammoth job will be monitored by TRAI is yet unclear, and whether the required technology is in place to implement this order is yet to be confirmed by operators, who have just been given less than three months to be ready with the infrastructure required to implement this decision.
 
Secondly, it is necessary for TRAI to ensure that this will not result in mobile operators raising tariffs to offset the cost of compensation payable to subscribers, as any step towards increasing the tariff would nullify the effect of this order to the detriment of consumers. 
 
Thirdly, TRAI should periodically publish results of their audit giving full details of number of subscribers compensated by each telecom operator, and total number of call drops for each operator. These details will also help TRAI to consider the need to improve the order either in favour of the consumers or the operators, as it is necessary to review the progress made by the operators to improve efficiency of operations, which is the ultimate objective of this decision. 
 
As far as the telecom operators are concerned, it is but natural that they may be unhappy about this order, as there are several reasons for the call drops, many of which may be beyond their control. It is, therefore, necessary for TRAI to understand problems faced by telecom operators to effectively implement this decision. TRAI should also ensure that the bottlenecks encountered by service providers are addressed, if they are within the ambit of government control and provide the support required to facilitate a smooth change over to the new system in the interest of smoothening frayed nerves of the telecom companies. 
 
 (The author is a financial analyst, writing for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’.)

User

COMMENTS

saikat sen

1 year ago

However,in reality, the limit for penalty is at Rs.3/- per day, at the most, but the mobile companies will increase the call charges many fold under the pretext of loss due to such penalty..

ambrish

1 year ago

TRAI is more COAI friendly that consumer as it is more into saving the interests of service providers than of consumers. Some examples:

1. Companies were charging no amount towards stationary or other admin charges, TRAI allowed it and now companies are taking Rs. 2 towards it.

2. Companies were offerring tariff for 365 days or life time, TRAI limited it for 90 days.

3. Earlier validity of each tariff was 30 days, how and when it converted into 27 or 28 days with the consent of TRAI is mystery, it resulted 10% increase in expenses of consumer.

4 How telescopic tariff was allowed, when companies are charging hefty amount towards STV then why this arbitrary provision to charge first two/three minutes @2 or 3 paisa per second.

5. Many companies have charged hefty amount from consumers for lifetime validity and tariff, what about refund of it.

6. Why it was made mandatory that consumer should use XX Rs in time span of 180 days to keep the no. active.

7. This penalty for call drop, how and why it was decided that only Rs.3 penalty (Max) can be received. Does it mean that complaint of call drop will not arise in more than three cases

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