Indian Railways now plans to install minimum one lakh stainless steel benches in 1,500 railway stations across the nation. This is based on a project idea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As per Railway Ministry’s assessment, depending on the size and specifications, a steel bench may cost between Rs 12,000 and Rs 30,000.
NEW DELHI: Soon, benches at Indian Railways stations will display the name of the local MP who sponsored them! Piyush-Goyal led Indian Railways now plans to install minimum one lakh stainless steel benches in 1,500 railway stations across the nation. This is based on a project idea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the funds for which will come local MPs. According to a report, the stainless steel benches will display the name of the local MP, whose funds will be used, as sponsors of the project. The tender for the project, will be the nation’s single largest procurement of public furniture by a government utility, the report said. To upgrade basic railway station amenities, the project is also one of the more ambitious moves by Indian Railways to use MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds.
According to sources quoted in the report, the progress of the project is being monitored by the Prime Minister’s office. The sources also mentioned that with trains accounting for nearly 2.5 crore passengers on daily basis, the motive behind the project was that the elected representatives should also contribute to help passengers as they wait for their trains. Currently, the sources added that the seating arrangement at platforms is not enough compared to the number of people on platforms on a regular basis. As per Railway Ministry’s assessment, depending on the size and specifications, a steel bench may cost between Rs 12,000 and Rs 30,000. At present, there are plans to set up four-seater and 10-seater circular benches.
Also, to give a boost to the project, the national transporter has also adopted a “1+1” policy under which for every bench sponsored by an MP at a railway station in his/her constituency, another bench will be installed by the railways at the same railway station and it will display the MP’s name on it as the benefactor. The MPs across the constituencies have been informed about this policy, the report stated. According to the sources, MPs who wish to see their names on the benches could contact railway authorities with a pledge to sponsor. Though the implementation of the project is expected to be over by March 2019 but the national transporter hopes to complete it earlier. The report also mentioned that so far, around Rs 14 crore has been collected for the benches.
In order to ensure uniformity of design and other specifications, the matter is being anchored in New Delhi instead of spreading the job across multiple tenders by zonal railways. Other procedural issues like design approval from RDSO from each zone was also there.
The report mentioned that Rs 40 lakh was given by Narendra Modi from his MPLAD fund for 900 benches at railway stations like Kashi and Varanasi in his constituency. Rs 25 lakh has been committed by Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her Vidisha constituency. 1,940 seats has been pledged by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for railway stations in Gujarat, from where he is a Rajya Sabha MP and Rs 36 lakh has been provided by Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi while agreeing with the idea, did not release money from his LAD fund, but he got 68 benches procured for railway stations in Musafirkhana, Nihalgarh and Gauriganj in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh. Also, Rs 20 lakh has been committed by Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay for Kolkata’s suburban stations in his constituency.