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Whither RITES?

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Public Transport

While a lot of debate has been going on from long about reforms in Indian Railways (check here), the latest being the Dr Bibek Debroy report (check The Hindu report on the same here), nobody appears to have given a thought to what's going on in RITES. Under 'about' on its web-site, what you'll see is

"RITES Ltd., a Government of India Enterprise was established in 1974, under the aegis of Indian Railways. RITES is incorporated in India as a Public Limited Company under the Companies Act, 1956 and is governed by a Board of Directors which includes persons of eminence from various sectors of engineering and management. RITES Ltd., an ISO 9001:2008 company, is a multi-disciplinary consultancy organization in the fields of transport, infrastructure and related technologies."

Apparently, they have a monopoly over providing consultancy services for every project involving Indian Railways.

Now, what made me check out this matter are the following excerpts from two reports (emphasis added is mine), on Commuter Rail System for Bengaluru, in the New Indian Express

A) Supporters of CRS and Railway officials agree on one thing. That the state government should consider looking elsewhere if they want a proper study on feasibility of CRS.

A senior railway official said, “RITES is filled with retired railway officials aged around 70 who will not go to the field. The government can ask another agency to study the feasibility.”

In their reply to DULT on the RITES report, the Railways say that vital elements have not been brought out by RITES and a realistic assessment of multiple problems of land acquisition and demolition of built up area has not been presented.

“Similarly, critical analysis of dislocation of the existing services has not been presented,” it stated.

For the full text, click here.

B) In September 2015, the Railways replied to a feasibility report from engineering consultancy company RITES about running commuter trains from the city centre to Whitefield, Tumakuru, Hosur, Hindupur, Ramanagaram and Chikkaballapur.

The report had a lot of technical flaws. One has to visit the sites, check the existing infrastructure and see if there is a possibility of running the trains on the existing infrastructure, and whether it can be augmented. None of this was done. It was report was prepared in the offices and was not practical at all. People think we are responsible for the delay, but RITES should be informing the state government correctly on what can be done and what cannot. They are keeping the state government in the dark and we are being blamed for it,” said Divisional Railway Manager of SWR, Bengaluru, Sanjiv Agarwal.

For the full text of that report, click here.

These are most damning statements about the organisation made by none other than senior officials of Indian Railways. Obviously, there's something deeply wrong. As such, as much as the powers that be may be looking at reforms in the Railways, they need to be looking at reforms in RITES too.

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