Major restructuring of railways on anvil

What is the news?

A panel was set up under the Principal Economic Adviser gave recommendations for Rationalisation of Government Bodies and Proposal for the Ministry of Railways. Recently, Cabinet Secretary asked about the actions taken on the rationalisation plan.

What are the recommendations of the panel?

Closure: Panel calls for winding up the Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE), the Central Organisation for Modernisation Of Workshops (COFMOW), Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) and Indian Railways Organisation for Alternative Fuel (IROAF).

Merger: Panel recommended RailTel should be merged with IRCTC. Railtel is one of the largest telecom infrastructure providers in the country. It focuses on modernising operations and safety systems through optic fibre networks that exist along railway tracks.

It is also recommended for the merger of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) with the Indian Railway Construction Limited (IRCON), as both works in the same field of infrastructure.

Transfer of functions: The panel recommended transferring the CRIS functions like passenger ticketing, freight invoicing, passenger train operations, etc. to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

Schools: Panel recommended the merger of railway schools with Kendriya Vidyalayas or handing them over to the respective State Governments. This was recommended because out of the 7.99 lakh children of railway employees in the 4-18 age group, less than 2% were enrolled in railway schools.

Factories under CPSE: Panel recommended to establish a Central Public Sector Enterprise to bring eight production units under its fold.

Private Participation: Panel proposed to upgrade the National Rail and Transportation Institute into a Central University and an Institute of National Importance. The panel also recommended merging Central Training Institutes with it. This will help bring in private participation and investment. This will also improve the healthcare facilities for the railway employees.

What is the significance?

It is a welcome move that the Indian railways are heading for reforms. These reforms will help in the modernisation of railways and bring much-needed efficiency to the operations.  Government has already started to work on these recommendations with the recent closure of IROAF.

Source: This post is based on the article “Major restructuring of railways on anvil” published in The Hindu on 18th September 2021.

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