New Delhi: Union Cabinet on Wednesday put off a proposal to constitute a Rail Tariff Authority (RTA) which is meant to advise the Railway Ministry on fares, an important reform measure for the cash-strapped public transport system.
Sources said the proposal could not be taken up as Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge was not present in the Cabinet meeting.
A close aide of Kharge said the Minister could not attend the meeting as he is out of town and will be reaching here this evening. The Cabinet meeting was to take place in the evening but it was rescheduled for the morning because of which he could not attend.
The RTA, seen to be a major reform proposal, is crucial for the cash-strapped railways as it will recommend fare revision from time to time taking into account input cost and volatile market condition.
The Cabinet is also expected to approve formation of a search committee for appointing RTA members and its chairman. Cabinet Secretary and Railway Board Chairman are members of the search committee.
However, the RTA's recommendation will not be mandatory for railways as, according to existing law, only the Railway Board, and not any outside body, can fix the tariff.
RTA will be given mandatory powers only after the amendment of the Railway Act, 1989, in Parliament which is unlikely to happen in the UPA-II regime whose term comes to an end in a few months.
The next government will initiate the process of making RTA a mandatory body by amending the Railway Act, 1989 to insert a sub-section called Chapter 5 (A).
First Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 17:37