Parl panel finds irregularities in ad contracts of Railways

RSTV Bureau

A parliamentary committee has found irregularities in award of contracts of advertisements in the mumbai division of the railways and recommended a CBI inquiry into it.

Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways.

Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its latest report has noted the irregularities in award of contract of advertisements on a first come, first served basis which was prevailing in the Mumbai division for the last 25-30 years.

KV THomas interview

Public Accounts Committee Chairman KV Thomas in an interview with Rajya Sabha TV.

All contracts which were allotted on the basis of the first come, first served basis for commercial publicity should be terminated with immediate effect, the PAC headed by KV Thomas said in its report.

The committee has found that there was no transparency in award of contracts in Central Railway and Western Railway.

The Mumbai division is part of Central Railway and Western Railway.

Taking note of the alleged fraud in allotment of advertisements and involvement of railway officials which were inquired into by the Central Vigilance Commission and action taken against a few officials, the committee recommended a CBI inquiry to probe.

The CBI inquiry should probe the first come, first served policy in Mumbai division, it said.

The committee is for strict action against erring  contractors and officials involved in the alleged fraud.

Unless and until exemplary punishment is awarded to the corrupt officials from the top to the bottom, irregularities in commercial publicity in railways cannot be rooted out, the report said.

It has also highlighted the “lackadaisical attitude” of the railways in utilising its vast resources for generating additional revenue through advertising.

Taking note of the delay in tender finalisation for advertisement at stations, the PAC report said railways have taken longer than the stipulated period of 45 to 90 days and it resulted in losses to the public transporter.

Recommending a review of the process of contract formulation and execution, it has said that railways should “shed the nonchalant approach of condoning delays” in finalisation of contracts owing to precautionary approach.

The committee has also observed the lack of coordination between various zones.

It has suggested railways encourage the zones which earn maximum revenue through commercial publicity by giving them incentives to motivate others.

The PAC has also observed that the menace of unauthorised displays at the stations was a constant source of leakage of revenues of railways.

It has recommended exploring the feasibility of hallmarking of authorised symbols for contracted advertisements to avoid unauthorised hoardings and penalty for unauthorised publicity.