RBI allows cooperative banks, RRBs to transfer funds online

All the banks can now transfer funds electronically through real time gross settlement system (RTGS) and national electronic funds transfer (NEFT)

To popularise electronic transfer of funds, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed regional rural banks (RRBs) and cooperative banks to participate in the centralised payment systems.
With this, all the banks can now transfer funds electronically through real time gross settlement system (RTGS) and national electronic funds transfer (NEFT).

At present, the centralised payment systems -- RTGS and NEFT can be accessed only by members that included public and private sector banks. As an exception, RRBs have been given access to the NEFT system through their sponsor banks. "On a review, it has been decided to expand the sub- membership route to enable all licensed banks to participate in NEFT and RTGS systems," RBI said in a notification.
NEFT, an electronic transfer of funds system meant for retail customers while RTGS system facilitates high-value transfer of money with threshold limit of Rs2 lakh. This would be an alternate mechanism to all licensed banks which have the technological capabilities but are not participating in centralised payment systems on account of either not meeting the access criteria or because of cost considerations, it said.
Eliciting condition for such transactions, the notification said, the sub-member would participate in the centralised payment systems through their sponsor bank which is a direct member of the centralised payment system.
In order to ensure compliance with the timely credit and return discipline which are of utmost importance in centralised payment systems, branches of sub-member that are not under core banking system shall be kept out of the centralised payment systems till such time they are brought under core banking, it said.
The sponsor banks would be responsible for sending or receiving the transactions or messages on behalf of their sub-member, it added.
The charges, it said, for customer transactions of sub-member cannot exceed the charges applicable to customers of sponsor banks or direct members of the centralised payment systems.


RBI fixes Rs50,000 crore ceiling for market stabilisation scheme

“The ceiling for outstanding balance under the MSS (market stabilisation scheme) for the fiscal year 2012-13 has been fixed at Rs50,000 crore,” the RBI said in a statement

In order to absorb excess liquidity, the Reserve Bank has pegged the quantum of intervention through Market Stabilisation Scheme (MSS) at Rs50,000 crore.

Under the MSS, RBI, on behalf of government, absorbs liquidity by issuing Treasury Bills and/or dated securities.

“The ceiling for outstanding balance under the MSS for the fiscal year 2012-13 has been fixed at Rs50,000 crore,” the RBI said in a statement.

The MSS ceiling is the same as was fixed for last fiscal.

“This ceiling will be reviewed when the outstanding balance reaches the threshold limit of Rs35,000 crore,” RBI said.

The government launched MSS in consultation with RBI in 2004 with the objective to absorb excess liquidity, arising out of significant foreign exchange inflows, by issuing treasury bills or dated securities.

The Government issues treasury bills and/ or dated securities under the MSS. This is in addition to its normal borrowing requirements.

For the current fiscal, the government has pegged its borrowing requirements at Rs5.13 lakh crore. Of this, about 65% or Rs3.79 lakh would be borrowed in the April- September period.

During 2011-12, the government borrowed over Rs5.1 lakh crore from the market. The borrowing had exceeded the budgeted borrowing target by over Rs92,000 crore as high subsidy expenditure led to overshooting of government finances.


Public Interest Exclusive
Making the Railways friendly for the disabled –Part II

If public transport system is not catering to the needs of disabled, their livelihood is being denied. It is of utmost importance that the Disability Act 1995 is implemented in letter and spirit. This is concluding part of the two part series

Having looked at guidelines for making built environment barrier free and the idea of relocating the compartment meant for PwD in the first part, in the second and concluding part, we will see the issue of large level differences between the coach floor levels and Platform levels and how it can be tackled.

This brings us to the question of why the level differences are inordinately high and why they cannot be minimized.

According to Indian Railways Schedule of Dimensions Revised 2004 (IR-SOD2004), for the wide stock passenger trains (Mumbai Suburban) the level of the 3660 mm wide coach can be at 1345 mm in unloaded condition above the top of rail (ToR) and 1200 mm when fully loaded. This is valid for trains on steel springs belonging to older design. The present set of Siemens design is on pneumatic suspension which maintains the level at 1200 mm from ToR even with varying load.

The platform level to be constructed in accordance with IR-SOD2004 can be within the range of 760 mm to 840 mm from ToR. This means that the level difference between the coach floor and the station platform can be in the range of 360 mm to 585 mm (14” to 24”). With coach floor projecting 1830 mm (actually ~1780 mm) from the centerline of rails and the edge of the platform coping at 1670 mm at the least, the platform will be under the flooring with a maximum overlap of 110 mm.

The reality on ground is only partially true of things being in accordance with the IR-SOD2004. Sometimes the horizontal overlap is not only missing but small gap prevails. While the maximum vertical floor level differences exist touching the worked out 585 mm, the minimum difference is only as little as 100 mm as seen at Chunabhatti or Thane, not as high as 350 mm worked out with IR-SOD2004. This means that there is scope to seriously revisit the IR-SOD2004 in this regard.

While it is noticed that the rail at stations do dip or rise uniformly, visible to the eye clearly, as at Reay Road, and the station platforms too should generally be at similar uniform gradient. It is observed that the station platform level itself is not uniformly horizontal along the edge lengthwise or rising or dipping to match the rise or dip of tracks adjoining. Thus the level difference between the coach floor and the station platform varies even along the same platform edge for the same train.  This is very clear at Chunabhatti and Andheri stations.

There are several stations located on the tracks which are on the curve. It is assumed that the curve radius is within the norms prescribed in the IR-SOD2004. The problem arising out of the curvature needs to be dealt with independently insofar as the horizontal and vertical gaps are concerned. However, with majority of stations being with straight tracks, raising platform levels to the level 1200 mm above ToR will ensure that in fully loaded condition, there will be no level difference and in fully empty condition, commuters will have to climb just 145 mm (< 6”). In fact for the new age coaches, platform height at 1200 mm from ToR will more or less match the coach height. Even the horizontal gap can be kept to mere 40 mm to account for construction inaccuracies of Civil Works and coach manufacture.

The edge has variety of non-skid surface, even on the same platform. Many of these become slippery with film of water, which abound during monsoon. Considerable water spills on to this edge from the decelerating or accelerating train during rain. This problem can be tackled separately but prima facie it pertains to collecting and disposing the rain water flowing into the rail coach roof gutter without letting it fall on the platform. At some places, erroneously slippery tiles have been placed such as at Mumbai Central suburban section. These need to be replaced.

The reason for high level difference could be attributed to railways following their “Schedule of Dimensions” which has been in use since 1913, updated periodically; platforms being constructed to designs meant for non-suburban train coaches. These coaches are 3250 mm wide (~3150 at floor level) while the suburban rail coaches are wide stock of 3660 mm (~3560 at floor level) width on the same standard rail coach chassis on broad gauge bogie. Horizontal gap for the non-suburban trains come out to be as much as 95 mm. The first footboard level generally matches the platform level. In suburban train system, the concept of footboard does not exist; the floor of the coach is the footboard.

Thus it can be seen that reducing the vertical gaps is possible; how this can be done needs to be investigated, platform by platform. By reducing this gap, the fatal accidents occurring by commuter falling in the gap will have been addressed in addition to providing some respite to all commuters, including to PwD insofar as boarding or alighting is concerned. With the compartments for PwD relocated to extremities, some methods can be evolved to enable even the wheelchair bound person to board rail coaches and commute in the suburban rail system. These methods adopted at the extremities then will not cause disturbances to normal commuter movement.

Considering space constraints at certain stations, it may be appropriate to provide elevators for PwD. Sometimes people with severe ankle and knee problems find ramps unsuitable as also the staircases; only elevators are suitable to them.

There are staircases and ramps which are very wide. Hand-railings need to be provided at spacing between 2.5m to 4m so as to assist commuters at large, but those carrying loads, plus those finding climbing difficult without support.

While MUTP was planned to reduce the passenger density in the coach, increase in rail commuters from about 60 lakh per day when MUTP was planned to 75 lakh today has kept the load at status quo while platforms, staircases and FOBs have become more crowded.

Therefore, to quickly evacuate commuters arriving at platforms quickly, escalators need to be introduced. Lesser crowd on the platform will also facilitate the PwD.

With application of mind and determination, facilities to PwD can be provided that will ensure that they receive equal opportunity and full participation. With these, there would also be greater safety and convenience in travel for normal commuters as well.

There are other amenities that need to be looked at more expeditiously simply because these can be implemented with least disturbance to operations of Railway and commuters. These are providing toilets to meet the requirements of PwD especially the wheel chair bound, providing ticketing windows and also the vendor counters suitable to PwD, the hand-railings of 40mm SS and not larger and its method of fixing to the wall or column, providing central hand-railings on wide staircases, ramps and FOBs and guiding tactile tiles all over the station areas with proper layout. There should not be any change in floor levels without clear indications such as at staircases or hand-railings. Good architectural practices need to be followed at all places that will not only cater to the needs of PwD but also for normal commuters.

(Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on Government of Maharashtra’s Steering Committee on BRTS for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was member of Bombay High Court appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). He is member of the Committee Constituted by the Bombay High Court for making the Railways, especially the Suburban Railways System Friendly towards Persons with Disability. While he has been an active campaigner against noise for more than a decade, he is a strong believer in functioning democracy. Mr Badami can be contacted at [email protected])


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