नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Going paperless may not come cheap for the Indian Railways as it could cost about INR 1,000 crore to INR 1,300 crore to begin with. In fact, it may require another INR 300 crore to INR 400 crore as recurring cost every year.
At present, the Railways spend about INR 60 crore and consume an estimated 6,000 tonne of paper every year.
The official said that “We started collecting the data on paper consumption while studying the costs and benefits of having a paperless office. The consumption data is according to initial estimates.”
The break-up of annual paper consumption includes about 600 tonnes used for the Passenger Reservation System and Unreserved Ticketing System, 500 tonnes for computer stationery and 4,000 tonne for books and forms.
PRS, issuing reserved tickets, is used primarily for long-distance trains and UTS, which issues unreserved tickets, is for shorter distance trains.
In the last budget, the Railways had announced that it would have a paperless office in five years.
Another official said that “We have already lowered our paper consumption in the last few years, with introduction of e-tickets. The consumption is further expected to come down as more and more people migrate to using SMS as tickets in both the reserved and unreserved segment.”
The Railways book over 15.5 crore e-tickets a year.
At present, the reserved train travel segment allows passengers to use SMS as a ticket along with an identity proof. One of the steps that the Railways are working on involves allowing text messages as tickets in the UTS. But given the varied crowd in the unreserved segment, it is difficult to expect everybody to have an identity proof.
The official said that “The key challenge is to ensure the security feature on SMS. The fear is what if people forward the SMS and use it repeatedly? To tackle that, one option is to have a QR code in the SMS and make the sender a part of the security check.”
The official added that “On the freight side, the Railways is already working on a project to have electronic revenue receipts, and start issuing these to petroleum product traffic from companies, such as IOC, BPCL and HPCL.”