His new role as the Railway Minister is deemed temporary till the next Cabinet reshuffle,but C P Joshi is making the best of it. He is taking the opportunity to sort out several pending issues the ministry he already heads,Road Transport and Highways,had with the Indian Railways for years.
On his first working day as the Railway Minister on Monday,Joshi convened a joint meeting of top-level officials of the two ministries to sort out bureaucratic hurdles in executing road projects involving the Railways.
From now on,it has been decided,the Railways will standardise the design of road overbridges across the country and the same will be factored in during the early stages of awarding contracts. This process is currently dragged to the later stages. Many a time,designs by consultants employed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have been found at variance with design parameters accepted by the Railways,leading to delays.
The process of approval of the General Arrangement Drawing (GAD) of the bridges,where Railways inputs come in,will also be reduced to three-four months from the present 18 months.
The Railways and NHAI will also work on a resource pool for making bridges. The Railways will need to pay up around 30 per cent of the project cost for building the portion of the bridge that goes over the tracks and the land alongside it. A standard percentage will be worked out after studying around 10-12 bridges. This is a traditional conflict area as the two ministries often disagree on the percentage of the cost the Railways needs to pay.
Ordinarily,decisions like these take months of correspondence between the two ministries and countless talks.
I decided to concentrate on certain issues involving the Railways in which highways and Road Transport Ministry works are concerned. The aim is to cut down bureaucratic hurdles so that works are completed faster, Joshi said.
From the Railways,the chairman,Railway,and member,Engineering,were present,apart from other officials,while from the Road Transport Ministry,the secretary,Road Transport,and the NHAI chairman were there. Railway sources said they expect more such meetings over the week.
There are 85 such projects across the country,of which,ministry officials said,around 46 have been cleared while the rest are pending.