New Delhi: The Railway Board post of Member Electrical, which has drawn interest after allegations that suspended Member Manesh Kumar had paid a hefty bribe for it, is much coveted due to the big-ticket projects handled by it, including the Rs 2500-crore train collision avoidance system.
Insiders in Railways maintained that appointment of officers from signal and telecom as member electrical have always been met with opposition. Mahesh Kumar comes from this discipline.
They said intense lobbying for this post had begun for quite sometime as the present Member Electrical Kulbhusan is tipped to take over as Chairman Railway Board in July.
Referring to reports of bribe being offered to Vijay Singla, the nephew of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, to get the post of Member (Electrical), the Railway Ministry had, however, in a statement yesterday said that "no relevant Board level post is vacant at present".
Kumar, the main accused in the bribery case in which Singla has also been arrested, was "not interested" in becoming Member Staff of Railway Board, CBI has said.
Member Electrical in the Board, the highest decision making body of the national transporter, is at present looking into the implementation of projects worth thousands of crores.
Kolkata Metro and railway track electrification comes under him. The Rs 2500-crore train collision avoidance system, which Railways plan to introduce in select routes on a pilot scale is being handled by the electrical wing.
Besides, the department is believed to be finalising a proposal for introduction of train sets in high density routes, with each coach coming at Rs 150 crore. The high speed train sets are expected to cruise along at 150 to 160 kmph, cutting travel time between metros.
The ambitious high-speed rail connectivity project is also being pursued by it, with estimates suggesting that laying one km of track would roughly cost Rs 200 crore.
Railways annual budget for this fiscal has been pegged at
over Rs 63,000 crore, as the PSU behemoth as entered into the select one billion tonne club in freight movement.
The board, including its chairman, comprises seven members, each entrusted with a specific area of operation. The members, who report directly to the Minister, oversee areas related to mechanical, traffic, engineering, electrical and staff besides finance commissioner.
Apart from Member Electrical, the post of Member Traffic assumes key for efficient functioning of Indian Railways. The post looks after passenger and freight movement among others.
Member Engineering, on the other hand, looks after all railway land, laying of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling work while Member Mechanical looks into the production aspects of all units which include diesel locomotive production, rolling out coaches and maintenance.
Member Staff looks after the affairs of railway personnel, Railway Protection Force and the medical wing.