CBI investigators piecing together the money trail in the alleged railway bribery scam believe that Narayan Rao Manjunath,the managing director of the Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Ltd,was the main financier in the deal and had arranged Rs 90 lakh to be paid on behalf of Railway Board member (staff) Mahesh Kumar.
Kumar,according to investigators,had assured Manjunath he would “work in his favour” after taking over as member (electrical). The CBI believes Manjunath’s firm,G G Tronics,stood to gain significantly had the deal gone through.
G G Tronics is a familiar name in the railways’ research and development circles,particularly when it comes to signals and telecommunication. The firm has been engaged in developing and providing various S&T equipment to Indian Railways and also been involved in projects in the Railways’ Research Designs and Standards Organisation at Manaknagar,Lucknow.
Manjunath was a regular visitor to RDSO,representing GG Tronics in meetings RDSO held with firms shortlisted for projects. Since the firm had already bagged some tenders,Manjunath,sources say,had access to officials in both RDSO and the Railway Board. Following the surfacing of his role in the alleged bribery scandal,RDSO is now in the process of reviewing all its dealings with G G Tronics,sources say.
G G Tronics had earlier been shortlisted for a few smaller projects by the RDSO but is said to have been essentially eyeing a share in Indian Railways’ ambitious project to develop the “Train Collision Avoidance System”,a micro-controller-based,fail-safe preventive against collisions.
As per sources,G G Tronics was originally not one of the six firms shortlisted to develop the system,but still ventured into developing it on its own and was in continuous touch with RDSO about it. The company’s website,in fact,lists “Train Collision Avoidance System ‘TCAS-G112′ ” as the only “new project” it is developing. Telephone calls to GG Tronics’ Bangalore office went unanswered through the day.
Investigators say that had Mahesh Kumar become member (electrical),he would have been in a position to dole out favours to G G Tronics,particularly in a multi-crore-rupee project such as this one.
Rail Bhavan sources say the system’s introduction and implementation have been a subject of intense discussion and debate within the ministry,given the fact that several earlier pilot projects to test technologies with similar objectives an Anti-Collision Device,a Train Protection Warning System had not yet proved conclusive. It is also known that various private firms have been lobbying to get their safety technologies implemented in the railways.
The TCAS project had started getting a lot of impetus in the ministry after Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal,in his first budget speech,talked about it. “Following successful completion of initial testing,the indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System is proposed to be put to rigorous trials to validate the technology under complex operational conditions,” Bansal had said in his budget speech.