Nagpur Division procure SUVs under codal charges for deposit works

Nagpur (NGP): Despite a complete ban on buying new vehicles by the Railway Board, Nagpur Division of Central Railway procured two vehicles from its client under the garb of codal charges for deposit work.

Deposit works are railway works, like building a siding, done for private parties. For this, a private company needs to deposit certain amount of the project with the railway. This amount is called codal charges.

According to papers sought under the RTI Act by Sachin Kondolikar, Akola, procurement of vehicles against deposit works is banned, yet officials managed to get two Chevrolet Taveras. One (MH31-DZ0094) is being used by operating department and was registered in the name of assistant operating manager (AOM) on October 16, 2012. Another (MH49-G0012) is being used by engineering department and was registered in the name of senior section engineer (works), Ajni, on January 21, 2013.

Central Railway PRO PD Patil said both the vehicles were procured before Railway Board issued its orders but information disproves the claim. The board had already banned procurement of vehicles by officers other than GM, AGM, DRM & ADRM way back in August 2007. However, officers continued to purchase vehicles out of codal charges deposited by the clients. This too was banned by chief accounts officer (CAO) Uma Ranade on Sept 26, 2012.

Money for the vehicles was paid by Dhariwal Infrastructure Limited (DIL) towards deposit work of a private siding for 600MW power plant at Tadali (Chandrapur), a month after CAO banned such procurement. Direct procurement by outside party against codal charges is not allowed. The vehicles are being used by engineering and operating department heads DR Temburne and Satyendra Kumar respectively.

“At a time when the railway is passing through financial crisis, it is really surprising how such irregularities were overlooked by DRM Brijesh Dixit,” said Kondolikar demanding a CBI inquiry into the scam. DIL provided two vehicles, worth Rs.8 lakh each. Total cost of the siding project was Rs.18.28 crore.

The railways have no supply order for the said vehicles but, interestingly, provision of fuel of about Rs.6 lakh has been made for one vehicle. “This is waste of public money,” alleged Kondolikar. DIL had deposited Rs.76.47 lakh as codal charges, which was around 4% of the project cost that included around 2% survey and 2% final inspection charges. There is no record to show whether charges towards vehicles are included in it. This only indicates manipulation in finance and accounting.

All officers, except those exempted, must use hired vehicles. Subsequent orders state codal charges of deposit works shall also not be used for buying vehicles. Even if vehicles are purchased, prior approval of GM is needed and order has to be placed through controller of stores. In this case, there is no record for release of payment by the railways to dealer Star Motors, Kamptee Road, for purchase of vehicles.

Though the bills and delivery memos are in the name of railway officers, payment was made by DIL directly to the dealer. Both the officers are not entitled for new vehicles. The statement showing due and payable codal charges from DIL indicates that the amount is fully deposited with the railways.

DIL was required to remit full amount of codal charges to the railways. However, payment directly made by DIL to the automobile dealer should not have been accounted in railways account as money against codal charges. The only inference is that the vehicles were supplied as bribe in kind.

“Against a series of queries, officials could not give any document about the source and method of purchase of these two vehicles,” said Kondolikar. Thus, not only the officers flouted rules and procedures, finance department, which needs to keep a tab on accounts, but also preferred to look the other way.