New Delhi: A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation exposed a major scam in the supply of packaged drinking water within the Railways, it has now emerged that the 'Rail Neer' contractor had made a business empire worth Rs 500 crore in just over a decade.
As per a report published in 'The Times Of India' on Sunday, Shyam Bihari Agrawal, booked by CBI following its raid in connection with the 'Rail Neer' scandal, virtual controlled the railway catering services.
Agarwal is the owner of the chain of Comesum restaurants at railway stations across India. He reportedly holds about 70% of pantry car business in Indian Railways through his parent company RK Associates & Hoteliers and several other front companies, the ToI report said.
Agrawal, who hails from Chhattisgarh, gets almost all the contracts in the premium trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi express besides other important trains, the report said qouting the CBI sources.
Agrawal made the fortune after getting small catering contracts in railways with the help of some senior politicians and bureaucrats. He is said to be close to two former railway ministers and managed to get big contracts for catering.
Four of Agarwal's several companies have been named by CBI in its FIR.
"Whenever there is a tender in railways for catering, he opens a new company with different set of Directors. Through his contacts, he gets the contract," said an official was quoted as saying.
and recovered Rs 20 crore cash in raids on suppliers who were benefiting from the scam.
The agency had on Friday raided 13 places in Delhi and Noida, and registered a case against two senior officials of Northern Railway and seven private companies in connection with the alleged scam. The case has been lodged against former chief commercial managers (PS and Catering) of Northern Railway MS Chalia and Sandeep Silas.
The companies booked by CBI are RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World under Prevention of Corruption Act.
CBI also recovered Rs 20 crore from the residence of Shyam Bihari Agrawal, his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal, who own RK Associates and Brandavan Food Product World.
As per CBI, the railway officials had favored these private firms by allowing other packaged drinking water other than the mandatory Rail Neer in premium trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express, and were making big gains.
According to a Railway Board order, IRCTC is to provide Rail Neer at roughly Rs 10.50 per bottle to the private caterers and the private caterers will be paid roughly Rs 15 per bottle for supplying the same to passengers in premium trains.
Flouting the norm, the private suppliers were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, whih is sold in the market at around Rs 6-7 per bottle, thereby causing loss to the exchequer.