Thursday, August 09, 2018

Railways Minister flying high on taxpayers money

Union Ministers are busy people, and perennially unsure of their schedule. Or so it would seem from the considerable bill run up by the Union Railways Minister on charter planes and multiple bookings.
As part of a series on the misuse of public funds by various ministries of the government of India, an investigation into the workings of the Railways Ministry reveals that rail officials frequently have bent rules to provide charter planes to Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal since he got the portfolio in September 2017. This has cost the public exchequer 15-20 times more than what it would have cost for the minister to board regular planes.
A Railways rule underlines that the Railways can hire a charter plane or helicopter only in case of railway accidents. A minister cannot hire a charter plane for official business unless he is inspecting an accident site.
The rulebook states that all government officials including ministers have to fly Air India unless flights are not available in emergency situations. However, Railways officials let Piyush Goyal and his two junior ministers in the Railways, take private airlines instead of Air India.
In addition to this, the Minister’s office buys two to three air tickets for the same destination on a given day just to ensure that Goyal doesn’t miss his flight.
09/08/18 Amit Bhardwaj and Cherry Agarwal/