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Suresh Prabhu: Finish projects on time, claim 2 per cent of cost as reward

The top speed decisions have made Prabhu’s intentions and style of functioning clear to top officers in the Railways, sources said.

Suresh Prabhu takes charge as the Union Minister for Railways at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday. (Source: PTI) Suresh Prabhu takes charge as the Union Minister for Railways at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday. (Source: PTI)

To ensure that rail projects do not languish for years and officers find a way to complete them within targets, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who took charge this week, has decided to give two per cent of project cost to the project teams and their chiefs as reward. But if projects miss the deadlines, adverse comments will be entered in the Annual Confidential Report of the officials concerned.

The decision has been communicated to the Railway Board and Board members are currently working out a way to prepare this policy, according to documents accessed by The Indian Express.

Depending on the nature and size of the project, the incentive can be lower but never more than 2 per cent. The money will be worked out as part of the project cost. “The system of reward and penalty should be introduced,” Prabhu told Board members in a meeting.

The decisions, taken at top speed, over the course of just two meetings, have made Prabhu’s intentions and style of functioning clear to top officers in the Railways, sources said.

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As availability of funds remains a problem area, Prabhu has also evinced interest in “securitizing” railway land for sourcing funds from external sources. The Railway Board has been asked to provide “details of encumbered land and its value” across the country.

Even before restructuring of the Railway Board takes place formally, Prabhu has directed Board members to carry out complete delegation of powers to field officers with proper checks and balances in a way that “Railway Board should only monitor closely”.

It has been instructed that tenders and such commercial matters will be decided up to the level of zonal General Managers only and do not require the ministry’s interference. The Board is now to prepare a formal revision of delegation of powers policy.

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For a complete turnaround of the Railways, Prabhu has directed that each area of rail operations should come up with a global benchmark which should be on a par with global standards. The task given to each department is assess their performance against such spelled out benchmarks every year for a period of five years.

The Board will now prepare a White Paper on its finances to be presented before the Consultative Committee on Railways on December 1. The White Paper will be discussed in Parliament, before presentation of Prabhu’s first rail Budget next year.

As Prabhu heads to the G-20 summit to assist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Railway Board will be busy preparing a presentation for the minister focusing on a three-year plan based on “benchmark of global standards in respect of Safety, Projects and Customer Satisfaction”, documents reveal.

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In the past 30 years, as many as 676 projects were sanctioned worth Rs 1,57,883 crore. Of these, only 317 projects could be completed and 359 projects remain to be completed which will now require as much as Rs 1,82,000 crore.

Last Rail Budget, 30 priority projects (which include all types of projects) were selected as per need and availability of funds.

First published on: 13-11-2014 at 03:51:07 am
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