Railway ministry wants to surrender 35 million USD loan sanctioned for Mumbai

It is a well known fact that Mumbai suburban railway has to depend on railway board for almost every approval. Now, another shocking fact has been revealed. Railway board wants to surrender 35 million US dollars from a world bank loan meant for Mumbai suburban railway. That too from an already sanctioned loan. Here is what happened:

Mumbai suburban network had already got a loan from World bank for MUTP-2 project. This loan was sanctioned with US dollar as its currency. Now, in the years after loan was sanctioned, US dollar has appreciated against Indian rupee. In other words, 1 US dollar is equivalent to more Indian rupees now that it was when this loan was sanctioned. As a result, the amount utilised for works in dollars is much less than sanctioned amount. Thus there are surplus unutilised funds left from the loan. 

MRVC took a smart decision. They decided to procure 153 additional coaches from the surplus fund. They discussed it with world bank during a review meeting in August 2015, and it was agreed to utilise this amount for procuring 153 additional coaches similar to Bombardier rakes being procured under MUTP-2A. Accordingly MRVC started process to get approvals for the same. A copy of the letter written by MRVC can be seen below:

 

As usual, the matter reached railway board for final approval. For reasons best known to them, railway board recommended that the loan should be surrendered. They said “the ministry of railways does not recommend processing the case of MRVC’s proposal”. Letter from railway board rejecting the proposal:

 

This is a poor decision by railway ministry. What is the justification to surrender already approved loan? On one hand, railways claim that Mumbai suburban railway runs at a loss. If so, then why deny an already approved loan? 35 million dollars is not a small sum.

MRVC’s thoughtfulness should be really appreciated. They decided to use this money for the most required asset in Mumbai – new rakes. Many coaches are nearing the end of life span. Some are even being used beyond their designed life. In such a situation, every new coach matters. MRVC had proposed 153 new coaches. That will translate into around 12 rakes of 12 coaches each. That is not a insignificant number. 12 new rakes will go along way in pushing out the old coaches and starting some new services. 

However Mumbai has lost this opportunity due to the whims of railway board. There is absolutely no justification for surrendering these funds. I strongly condemn this decision of the ministry. Luckily Mumbai has got this bonus, and it should NOT be snatched away. The city desperately needs it. Readers, please share this on Twitter and ask the Hon. Railway minister to reconsider this unfair decision. Please tag RailMinIndia & the railway minister Suresh Prabhu in your tweets. 

Source of letters: CR report on overcrowding

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