Citizens' Issues
Rail minister PK Bansal’s nephew arrested for allegedly accepting Rs90 lakh bribe

Vijay Singla is accused of accepting the money in return for ensuring that Mahesh Kumar, who had been the general manager of Western Railway, would be appointed to the Railway Board—which the ministry announced on May 2

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested Vijay Singla, nephew of railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, for allegedly accepting a portion of a R.90 lakh bribe to ensure the appointment of a Railway Board member.


The agency also registered a case against three other people—including the accused member (staff) Mahesh Kumar who had taken up his position on the board only a day earlier—after conducting raids in several cities.


Singla, son of Bansal’s sister and one of the leading businessmen in the region, was picked up by a CBI team from New Delhi on Friday evening. He was at his residence at Panchkula, near Chandigarh at the time.


Sources from the agency said the Delhi team did not inform their Chandigarh counterparts about the operation before carrying out the arrest.


Singla is accused of accepting the money in return for ensuring that Kumar, a 1975 graduate from University of Roorkee who had been the general manager of Western Railway, would be appointed to the Railway Board—which the ministry announced on May 2.


A Guinness Book of World records holder for “Largest Route Relay Interlocking”, Kumar had spent nearly four decades in the Indian Railways before being embroiled in this alleged corruption scam.


The CBI also named Sandip Goyal and Manjunath, as well as unnamed persons in the corruption case. The agency also carried out raids in Mumbai after learning about the alleged bribes, which apparently gave them sufficient basis to take action against Singla—whose close contacts with the railway minister are certain to be a part of the CBI’s investigation.


The agency has detained both Goyal and Manjunath, and are interrogating the two in the hope of gaining more information about the alleged conspiracy to secure a place on the Railway Board, sources said.


Foodgrain output revised upward by 2% to 255.36 million tonne

Despite upward revision in the Third Advance Estimate released today, foodgrain production will be lower than the previous year's record 259.32 MT on account of the drought in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan on account of poor monsoon last year

India’s foodgrain production has been revised upwards by over 5 million tonne (MT) to 255.36 MT in 2012-13 crop year from earlier estimates on account of higher output of rice, wheat and coarse cereals, according to the data released by the agriculture ministry.


The foodgrain output for 2012-13 crop year (July-June) was projected at 250.14 MT in the second advance estimates released in February.


Despite upward revision in the third estimate released today, foodgrain production will be lower than the previous year's record 259.32 MT.


This is because of drought in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan on account of poor monsoon last year.


According to 3rd Advance Estimate, rice production has been revised upwards to 104.22 MT for 2012-13, from 101.80 MT in 2nd advance estimate. It is still lower than previous year's record 105.31 MT.


Similarly, wheat production has been pegged higher at 93.62 MT in 2012-13 from earlier estimate of 92.3 MT, but is lower than the record 94.88 MT in the previous year.


Pulses production, too, has been revised slightly upwards to 18 MT from 17.58 MT in February estimates. In the 2011-12 crop year, pulses output stood at 17.09 MT.


The production of coarse cereals has been pegged higher at 39.52 MT in 2012-13, from the earlier estimates of 38.47 MT. In 2011-12 crop year, the coarse cereals output stood at 42.04 MT.


Central Railway never invited fresh tenders for stalls on platforms in Mumbai, reveals RTI

According to the RTI reply, since independence, over 30 firms or individuals have been running multiple stalls in their names and Central Railway has never invited fresh tender for various stalls on platforms across Mumbai

Year after year, over 30 firms or individuals are continuously running their 24x7 stalls on platforms across stations in Mumbai since the Central Railway (CR) has never invited fresh tenders for the profitable business, reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI).


The RTI was filed by West Bengal-based Ritesh Singh. While the CR has provided details about contractors who are running stall for food & catering (canteen), medicines, books, fruits and other miscellaneous items, a similar RTI is still pending with the Western Railway.


There are about 200 stalls on platforms in CR's Mumbai division. However, according to the reply, between January 1961 and December 2011, over 30 firms or individuals were operating all these stalls. Here are the names of these contractors, excluding Mahanand Dairy, the state-government backed milk co-operative and Catering Vendor Co-operative Society, which are neither firms not individuals.


Name                                              no of stalls                         stations

1. Balan Natural Pvt Ltd                      5                   Masjid, Mulund, Panvel, Badlapur, Karjat

2. Surya Foods & Agro Ltd                   4                    Byculla, Byculla, Dombivali, Kasara

3. Balram Sharma                                2                     Ghatkopar, Vikhroli

4. SA Pai                                                   2                     both at Kalyan Junction

5. M/s Ghanshyamdas & Sons           3                      Masjid Road, Sandhurst Road, KCE

6. M/s Chantulal & Sons                     4                      Matunga, Kurla Junction (three)

7. M/s CK Gupta & Co                          4                       all at Byculla

8. M/s MP Sahani & Co                       4                        all at Mulund

9. M/s KN Solunki & Brithers           6                        all 6 stalls at Thane

10. M/s Gupta Broth                           3                         all 3 stalls at Thane

11. M/s NB Enterprises                  1+2 kiosks           all at Thane

12. M/s Pessumal & Co                        2                         both at Dockyard Road

13. M/s NK Kalyankar & Sons          2                          both at Reay Road

14. M/s Surprakash & Brothers       2                           both at Sewri

15. M/s RS Goyal & Sons                     2                          both at Wadala Road

16. M/s SB Gupta & sons                    2                           Govandi, Mankhurd

17. M/s RB enterprises                       1+2 kiosks          all at Dombivali

18. M/s SH Jondhale                           2                            both at Dombivali

19. M/s AK Irani & Co.                        2                           both at Kalyan Junction

20. M/s Shri US Diwadkar                4                           all at Kalyan Junction

21. M/s MK Kashyap Ent.                   2                         both at Kalyan Junction

22. M/s Badlmal Giyanumal & Sons3                       Ulhasnagar, Ambivali, Vangani

23. M/s Shri Udhavdas Ratanlal        2                        both at Ambarnath

24. M/s YS Diwadkar                             2                           Neral Junction, Karjat

25. NG Mukadam                                    1                             Titwala

26. DS Bedi                                                1                                 Shahad

27. M/s Sirumal Sevaram & Sons      1                                 Kalyan Junction

28. Pradip Kanagali                               1                            Kalyan Junction


There are four firms or persons who are awarded more than one book stall.

1. CB Pingle                                       2        Sion and GTB Nagar

2. SK Thatle & sons                         2        Vidyavihar and Kanjurmarg

3. Jaycee News agency                 2        Vitthalvadi and Ulhasnagar

4. Tribhuvan Tiwari                      2        both at Dockyard Road


Although the stalls are allotted to these chosen contractors, they may not be running it in person. Several such stalls are given on sub-let basis that often runs in to several lakh of rupees and the operator is shown as manager on paper.


When Singh asked if there was any stay order from any court that prevents the CR from inviting fresh tenders, the RTI reply says there was no case.


Another interesting aspect is the list does not have names like AH Wheeler & Co and Higginbothams, which till 2004 were had a monopoly in book stalls on railway platforms across the country, except Southern Railway and part of South Central Railway zones. In 2004, it had bookstores in 258 railway stations and used to contribute to about 80% of the revenues earned by the Indian Railways from book sales.


Following the new book policy adopted by the Railways in 2004, AH Wheeler lost its monopoly.



Veeresh Malik

4 years ago

This "Balan natural" can be found all over India at railway platforms and is anything but natural, selling mostly packaged products. Gossip connects them with a leading Congress party family where the son-in-law is an ever-rising and more rising star. How they managed to project themselves into this lucrative trade, and also managed to block off all real fresh food on so many railway platforms is supposed to be another story, backed by a leading MNC much in the news lately for re-purchasing their shares. . .

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