Two railway officials suspended over graft charges

Two railway officials suspended over graft charges
Railways have suspended two senior officials following searches carried out by CBI and recovery of Rs 20 crore in cash in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in premium trains.

The suspension order was issued against the two officials in the alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in trains late night, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The officials involved in the case are the then Chief Commercial Managers (PS and Catering) of Northern Railway M S Chalia and Sandeep Silas.

CBI had recovered Rs 20 crore in cash during searches at 13 locations against two former Northern Railways officials and seven private firms in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water other than mandatory 'Rail Neer' in premium trains.

Rail Neer is produced and supplied by IRCTC in trains. IRCTC has set up Rail Neer plants at several places including Nangloi, Danapur, Chennai and Amethi.

While Chennai produces about 15,000 cartons of Rail Neer per day, Nangloi produces about 11,000 cartons and Danapur produces about 7500 cartons per day. One carton contains 12 bottles.

"Our mandate is to produce and supply Rail Neer to railways and railways decide on where it will be sent," said a senior IRCTC official.

IRCTC official said Rail Neer is available in all trains where catering service is managed by it. "We ensure Rail Neer at all those trains where IRCTC is entrusted with catering responsibility."

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has also asked Chairman Railway Board to investigate complaints into IRCTC booking and ordered technical audit of IRCTC web bookings.

"Chair Rail Board will investigate complaints into IRCTC bookings to ensure full transparency. Complete technical audit ordered for web bookings on IRCTC. No one will be allowed to manipulate a system," Prabhu had tweeted.

It was alleged that the accused had shown favour to private firms in supply of cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory 'Rail Neer' in premium trains.

CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh had said yesterday that it was alleged that the Railway Board had prescribed that IRCTC shall provide Rail Neer at a rate of Rs 10.50 (approx) per bottle to the private caterers and the private caterers will be paid Rs 15 (approx) per bottle for supplying the same to passengers in premium trains.

However, the private suppliers in order to obtain undue gain, were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, other than "Rail Neer", available in the market at a rate of Rs 5.70 to 7.00 (approx) per bottle, thereby causing gain to themselves and loss to the exchequer, the official said.

"The accused public servants allegedly did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in the premium trains despite repeated requests of IRCTC for non-picking of allotted quota of 'Rail Neer' by Private Caterers," the spokesperson had said.
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