Centre recommends integration, structural reforms in various bodies under Railways Ministry

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New Delhi [India], September 19 (ANI): The Cabinet Secretariat has asked the Ministry of Railways to work upon a series of recommendations, which include integration of various Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) with the National Testing Agency (NTA) and merger of various railway's institutions.

These recommendations are part of a report on the Rationalisation of Government Bodies under the Ministry of Railways prepared by Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance.

The proposals are wide-ranging and not restricted to only Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) of railways, but upgrading all 125 railway hospitals, bringing railway schools under the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

The move would minimise the time of railway management in running schools. It will also help the railway to focus on its core competence of running and maintaining the railway service.

A senior official of the Ministry of Railways said that the report had been handed over to them last week and now sent to all major departments for their consideration.

He said these recommendations need a series of discussions with all members of the Railway Board and senior officials of related institutions or departments.

The report called for the "Integration of the Railway Recruitment Control Board" under the National Testing Agency (NTA).

The report says that there is no need for separate RRBs and the railway may conduct its exams via NTA with set up of coordination office.

On the merger of PSUs, Sanjeev Sanyal's report pointed out the overlaps in the functions of Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).

The report recommended that CRIS be wound up after handing over all its work to IRCTC, and RailTel be merged into IRCTC. It also said that both Indian Railway Construction Limited (IRCON), a specialised infrastructure construction company, and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), which implements projects related to the creation and augmentation of rail infrastructure capacity on a fast-track basis both have similar business functions.

IRCON has a significant international presence, while, RVNL works as a subcontractor of IR, hence RVNL can be merged into IRCON.

According to the report, Braithwaite and Co. Limited (BCL) and Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) have similar nature of work. Hence, it is recommended that BCL can be taken over by RITES.

Underlining the functioning of Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a statutory organisation with complete powers of station development, land monetisation and contract management, and Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC), a joint venture between RLDA and IRCON, the report said that one of the two bodies between IRSDC and RLDA should be identified as a sole functioning entity and given full responsibility.

Besides supporting 87 Kendriya Vidyalaya, the Indian Railways presently runs 94 schools to provide education to the children of railway employees as well as to the children of non-railways employees also.

The report said operating the schools takes up much amount of time for railway management, whose core competence is in running and maintaining the railway and service.

Highlighting that Indian Railways runs 125 hospitals and 586 health units, Sanyal's report said the consistent feedback is that the railway hospitals are underinvested and do not have adequate facilities. Therefore, it is recommended that the Railway Hospitals be upgraded through institutional mechanisms, it added.

It also suggested the public-private partnership (PPP) model may be explored.

The report also recommended that the Railways Board and the Ministry of Railways should withdraw their direct involvement in Indian Railway Welfare Organisation (IRWO), a society set to provide housing to serving and retired employees. After the implementation of this recommendation, IRWO is treated as a privately-run body.

In the present scenario, the report pointed out that there is no need for the Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel (IROAF), Central Organisation for Modernisation of Workshops (COFMOW) and Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE).

There are some more recommendations for Rationalising of Railway Directorates, Central Training Institutes (CTIs) and Zonal Railway Training Institutes (ZRTI) to reform and transform the functioning of these institutions.

In a recent note sent to the Ministry of Railways, the Cabinet Secretariat has asked Chairman and CEO, Railway, Board Suneet Sharma to update the actions taken on the recommendations in the first week of every month. (ANI)

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