Debate on Bibek Debroy Committee centers around the Railway Board

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The most exciting ‘project’ for the railways to look forward to this year is not a new bridge or station or the sort, it is what the Bibek Debroy committee is expected to do with the railway board. The bets are on everything from keeping the board as it is to completely dismantling it.

“The committee has been given a one year term which means that in all probability the report will be submitted by the end of this year. Among all levels of the 13 lakh staffers, the talk is on what will be done with the railway board,” said a senior official.

The debate has so far centered around the railway board because of the first time ever, then railway minister Sadanand Gowda dropped a hint during his July 8 railway budget speech last year. Gowda had told Parliament: At the moment, the railway board, due to overlapping roles of policy formulation and implementation, has become unwieldy. Therefore, I propose to separate these two functions.”

While constituting the Bibek Debroy Committee, the railway ministry had on September 22, 2014 announced that the former’s mandate included “reorganizing and restructuring the railway board and subsequently the department so that policy making and operations are separated, the department does not work in silos, policy making focuses on long-term and medium-term planning issues and operations focuses on day-to-day functioning of the organization”.

A senior official said, “The Railway Board today is unable to coordinate properly with state governments nor has it been able to push the railway’s agenda with the states. It needs the intervention of big ministers or even the prime minister for coordination and to get big-ticket projects.”

Another official said, “The board’s structure, with members of various streams of engineering, finance and traffic all behaving as protectors of their own fiefdoms, has failed. Hopefully the government will come up with a better structure.”