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Today (17:03)  Himachal HC summons three senior railway officers (www.ptinews.com)
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Commentary/Human InterestNR/Northern  -  

News Entry# 309599     
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Posted by: rdb*^  130913 news posts
Irked by the Railways' failure in properly apprising it of illegalities in various structures along the Kalka-Shimla Heritage Track and other railway lines in the state, the Himachal Pradesh High Court today summoned three senior officers of the Indian Railways.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel sought the presence of the officers on the next date of hearing, while expressing dissatisfaction over the Railways' affidavit filed in the matter.
The sensitivity required to be exhibited by the officers in dealing with such matters is absolutely
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non-existent, said the bench while issuing summons to one senior divisional engineer of Firozpur and two of Ambala.
The officer (filing the affidavit on the issue) has either not understood the court s directions or he is deliberately trying to conceal the relevant information, said the bench.
After personally inspecting the railway track, the officer, with the help of his subordinates, was to identify the manner in which the Railways rules, regulations and bye- laws were violated either by raising construction over the Railways land or the private land.
Picking holes in the affidavit, the court pointed out that in case of the Kalka-Shimla Heritage Track, a UNESCO world heritage site, the officer had only indicated that 18 persons raised constructions by encroaching upon the railway land.
Significantly, all these were at a short distance from railway track from Shimla to Jutogh and it was not clear in the affidavit as to how all the construction raised by the private individuals along the 96-km track were legal.
Similar was the position with regard to other railway tracks, namely, Pathankot-Jogindernagar and Nangal-Talwara falling within the territorial limits of the state.
  
Today (17:02)  Lizard in railway food: ministry cancels caterers contract (indiatoday.intoday.in)
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Commentary/Human Interest

News Entry# 309598     
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Posted by: rdb*^  130913 news posts
The railway ministry today cancelled a caterers contract after a passenger found a dead lizard in his vegetable biryani served on a Delhi-bound train from Howrah, a ministry spokesperson said.
The passenger had ordered and eaten the dish without noticing the lizard but felt unwell later, a co-passenger, Meghna Sinha, said in a series of Tweets yesterday.
"In view of the Railways zero tolerance policy towards poor quality and overcharging of food, the railway administration has terminated the contract of the catering contractor, R K Associates, for the Howrah-New Delhi Poorva Express," Railway
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Ministry spokesperson A K Saxena told PTI.
Sinha had shot a photograph of the biryani packet, uploaded it on Twitter and tagged the Indian Railways. In another Tweet, she tagged Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The ministry tweeted today that the catering contract on Poorva Express was given to R K Associates on May 15, 2014, for five years.
The caterer was fined Rs 10 lakh last year and Rs 7.5 lakh, it said in another Tweet.
The passenger, who had asked for the biryani when the train was near Jhajha, Bihar, also uploaded a complaint on Twitter.
Responding to the complaint, the ministers office asked the traveller for travel details.
"Kindly share your PNR number," it tweeted and tagged the concerned catering department.
The passenger underwent a health check-up in Patna, Buxar and then again at Mughalsarai in UP, where senior rail officers were also present, officials said.
The spokesperson said in the last six months, the administration had terminated the contracts of eight catering units.
"It is unprecedented the number of contracts that we have terminated in the past six months. In the last year, 16 such contractors were also blacklisted. We have also financially penalised the offenders," Saxena said.
The incident comes days after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) slammed the railways for bad quality food, saying it was "unfit for human consumption".
Prabhu has also directed the administration to conduct special catering drives across the entire railway network starting today. Officials have been instructed to inspect pantries and base kitchens and take corrective measures wherever necessary.
R K Associates on its website said it had been catering for the Railways "for the past two decade". PTI ASG PYK ABN BDS
  
Today (17:01)  Indian Railways conducting drive to check touts, ticketless travel (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
News Entry# 309597     
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Posted by: rdb*^  130913 news posts
NEW DELHI: The Railways have conducted a special drive to check the malpractices of touting, ticketless travel and misuse of facilities during which 307 touts and 59,115 unauthorised vendors were prosecuted, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said a special drive was launched by all zonal railways from April 1 to June 30 to conduct checks in mass contact areas.
The drive was aimed at curbing malpractices of touting activities, ticketless passengers and misuse of facilities of e-ticketing, among others.
"During
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the drive, 307 touts, 59,115 unauthorised vendors and seven illegal ticketing agencies have been prosecuted. An amount of Rs 1.18 crore was recovered during the special drive," he said during Question Hour.
Prabhu said some steps have been taken to make the public aware of streamlining of reservation system and making it more transparent.
He said the ministry was conducting joint as well as independent checks by commercial, vigilance and security departments to curb the activities of touts and malpractices by the railway staff in connivance with touts.
The minister said these checks were intensified during peak rush and festival periods. Touts and unauthorised vendors were apprehended and prosecuted under sections 143 and 144 of the Railways Act, 1989. Illegal users of online e-ticketing are prosecuted under provision of section 143 of Railways Act 1989.
"Simultaneous checks were conducted at reservation offices and on the trains to detect the cases of transferred reserved tickets i.e. persons found travelling fraudulently against accommodation actually reserved in the name of another passenger," he said.
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Today (16:59)  Himachal HC summons three senior railway officers (www.india.com)
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Other NewsNR/Northern  -  

News Entry# 309596     
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Posted by: Jayashree ❖ Amita  37009 news posts
Shimla, July 25 (PTI) Irked by the Railways’ failure in properly apprising it of illegalities in various structures along the Kalka-Shimla Heritage Track and other railway lines in the state, the Himachal Pradesh High Court today summoned three senior officers of the Indian Railways.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel sought the presence of the officers on the next date of hearing, while expressing dissatisfaction over the Railways’ affidavit filed in the matter.
The sensitivity required to be exhibited by the officers in dealing with
...
more...
such matters is absolutely non-existent, said the bench while issuing summons to one senior divisional engineer of Firozpur and two of Ambala.
The officer (filing the affidavit on the issue) has either not understood the court s directions or he is deliberately trying to conceal the relevant information, said the bench.
After personally inspecting the railway track, the officer, with the help of his subordinates, was to identify the manner in which the Railways rules, regulations and bye- laws were violated either by raising construction over the Railways land or the private land.
Picking holes in the affidavit, the court pointed out that in case of the Kalka-Shimla Heritage Track, a UNESCO world heritage site, the officer had only indicated that 18 persons raised constructions by encroaching upon the railway land.
Significantly, all these were at a short distance from railway track from Shimla to Jutogh and it was not clear in the affidavit as to how all the construction raised by the private individuals along the 96-km track were legal.
Similar was the position with regard to other railway tracks, namely, Pathankot-Jogindernagar and Nangal-Talwara falling within the territorial limits of the state
  
Today (16:59)  Special-needs student missed crucial MPhil entrance exam because of Railways: Delhi HC (www.hindustantimes.com)
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Commentary/Human Interest

News Entry# 309595     
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Posted by: Jayashree ❖ Amita  37009 news posts
New Delhi Treat the disabled as the “most treasured” passengers, the Delhi High Court on Monday advised the Railways, blaming it for an incident in which a visually-impaired missed his MPhil entrance exam as he could not board a reserved coach locked from inside.
A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice Hari Shankar noted that the youth tried to reach Delhi on July 3 for the exam to be held on July 5, but could not as he first did not get a confirmed seat.
On July 4 when he
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arrived at the station the train was running late. When it finally arrived, the coach for the disabled was locked from inside so he could not enter it, it recorded in its order.
The Delhi University (DU), too, was ticked off by the bench for taking an “adversarial stand” in the matter by saying that the man, Vaibhav Shukla, did not seem interested in appearing for the test as he took a train to Delhi on July 5 afternoon when the exam was scheduled in the morning of the same day.
“It is Indian Railways which prevented him from taking the exam,” the court observed during hearing of the PIL which it initiated on its own after coming across a news report that a young man missed his MPhil test as the door of a special coach for disabled in the Gorakhdham Express was shut.
“You need to do much more,” it told the Railways which claimed that it has re-designed 3200 out of nearly one lakh luggage coaches to make them disabled-friendly, with work on the rest continuing.
It advised the Railways not to put such special coaches at the extreme front or rear of a train as at smaller stations these would be outside the platform area, making it difficult for the specially-abled to access them easily.
Instead, put such coaches in the middle, the Bench said and also suggested that berths on one side of the coaches be removed to enable easier access and hassle-free movement of stretchers and wheelchairs.
If such coaches go empty, let them go empty, the judges said, adding that no able-bodied person should be allowed to board them.
The court also appointed former general manager of Indian Railways Sarabjit Arjan Singh an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist the court as he had written an article giving suggestions for making the railways a disabled-friendly network.
The court asked the Delhi University to find out if there were two question papers for the MPhil Sanskrit examination, as claimed by Shukla’s lawyer, so that the student could sit for the test.
The petitioner’s lawyer said universities prepared two sets of question papers. While one is given to the examinees, the other is kept as stand-by. The set not used in the examination could be given to his client to enable him answer it, he added.
“Message must go (out) that we cannot treat our own like this,” the court, which was told by the student’s lawyer that he had scored 82% in BA Sanskrit while studying from St Stephen’s in DU.
Shukla’s lawyer also said the student be admitted in MPhil only if he met the cut-off for general category, instead of the limit for disabled.
The court has listed the matter for further hearing on July 26.
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