The arrest of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s nephew accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh has just added to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s woes. Sheela Bhatt profiles the bribe-giver
The case of alleged bribe to V Singla a nephew of Railway minister P K Bansal is serious enough to create a stir. The opposition will surely demand Bansal’s resignation to ensure a proper investigation.
According to an agency report, Singla was arrested in Chandigarh for accepting Rs 90 lakh in cash from Manjunath, the conduit of Mahesh Kumar, recently promoted as member (staff) of Indian Railway Board. The money was paid to get the lucrative position as member (electrical), claims the Central Bureau of Investigation.
On May 2, the Press Information Bureau had issued a release about Kumar’s latest promotion. It said that Kumar had taken over as member (staff), railway board and ex-officio secretary to the Government of India. Prior to this posting, Kumar was general manager, Western Railway, (Headquarter: Churchgate, Mumbai).
In an interesting insight, a source well-versed with railways working says that current CBI chief Ranjit Sinha, who is currently under tremendous pressure for succumbing to the government’s dictat and showing Law Minister Ashwani Kumar the status report of the coal scam investigation has a personal grudge with Kumar. At time of filing this report, the information could not be confirmed.
The knowledgeable source said that a few years ago, Sinha was heading the Railway Protection force. At that time, Kumar was close to then Rail Minister Mamta Banerjee. Due to some reasons, tension developed between Sinha and Kumar. Sinha had to leave the post. He moved on and eventually landed at the CBI.
When Sinha became the agency’s chief, Kumar was kept under the CBI’s radar. It is said that the CBI kept Kumar’s phone under surveillance, and eventually a day after his big promotion he was caught giving bribe money to a nephew of none other than the rail minister.
Bansal will have a difficult time to disassociate from his nephew because he was frequently seen in his cabin at the Rail Bhavan.
Kumar is a graduate in Electronics & Communication Engineering (1975) from RoorkeeUniversity of (now Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee). He belongs to the 1975 batch of Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers.
The PIB release said about Kumar, who is now arrested, that, “One of his most remarkable feats has been gaining entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for commissioning the ‘Largest Route Relay Interlocking’ in the world at Old Delhi Railway Station in shortest possible time of 36 hours, the nly officer from the Indian Railways to have achieved this.”
It also claimed, “He has many firsts and innovations to his credit such as commissioning of major doubling projects within 3-4 hours block, Modified Automatic Signaling for safe train operation during fog, termed innovation of the year 2010-11, commissioning of the Passenger Reservation System through satellite, commissioning of first integrated Railways’ Call Centre using ‘139’ and commissioning of major yard remodeling within short blocks.”
It is surprising that a person with such merit needed to pay such a huge bribe to get a favourite posting, as the CBI is alleging, to a close relative of the rail minister.
Kumar has another achievement to his credit as well before he was taken to custody.
As general manager, Western Railway, he has to his credit the completion of a mammoth project of conversion of electric traction from 1,500 Volts DC to 25,000 Volts AC in the Churchgate-Virar section of Mumbai Division, the busiest section with dense suburban as well as long distance traffic without affecting the running of trains.
The man CBI trapped successfully is the recipient of several awards including awards from Mamta and the railway board several times. The corruption in Indian railways is common knowledge and money is paid for every little governmental transfer but, surely, this case will not fade away quickly.
In pic: Mahesh Kumar
Picture courtesy: pib.nic.in