New Delhi: Prior to handing over the charge of railway ministry, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh aims to tighten the noose around the department authorities. After Mamata Banerjee vacated the ministry to take over as West Bengal CM, Singh has been looking after the charge of railway ministry.

Before entrusting the responsibility of any minister, Singh has summoned top railway officials for a review meeting.
After Banerjee stepped down, Singh faced multiple problems prominently including crippling financial state of railways, train delays, nature of accidents and misery of railway projects.

In the backdrop of all this, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has called top railway officials including Minister of State (MoS) Railways Mukul Roy, three other minister of states, all members of the railway board and General Managers of all zones on Wednesday evening.

This is for the first time that any Prime Minister will review the railway ministry on such a large scale. Caught by surprise, the railway authorities are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to ensure that they have a solution to the questions raised by Singh in the meeting.

Railway Board head Vivek Sahay directed all 17 General Managers to reach Rail Bhawan in New Delhi at 10 am on Wednesday. The review meeting will be held at 5 pm on Wednesday evening at PMO.

Singh has instructed the railway officials to prepare themselves on important issues for the meeting.

Security and safety of railways will a major issue to be discussed in the meeting.

Notably, many railway mishaps were reported during Mamata’s tenure and after she left charge, Singh had to announce aid for victims who were injured in the recent mishaps. PM has questioned the authorities about the root cause behind these mishaps.

Apart from this, Singh has also sought an explanation for the delay in train timings in the summer season. Not only parliamentarians and minister, but even the common people have brought the issue to the knowledge of the Prime Minister.

The most important issue that will be raised is the deplorable financial condition of the ministry. Although Singh was concerned about the problem from a long time but due to West Bengal assembly elections and urge from Mamata, he could not initiate any action in this regard.

It appears that Singh wants to send out the message that railway ministry should stand up on its own and encourage Public Private Partnership (PPP) model rather than knocking Finance Ministry’s door for additional funds.

It should be noted that various schemes by railways like world class stations, ferret corridors, engine-wagon and coaches are based on PPP model but due to strict rules and regulations, private companies are not interested in investing in these projects.

JPN/Bureau