MPs set their terms for travel across India

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The Hindu, June 20, 2010

The Union Ministries of Road Transport & Highways and the Railways have yielded to pressure from Members of Parliament for provision of more freebies and arrangements for hassle-free travel across the country.

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has revised its tolling policy with a pronounced bias in favour of MPs even while raising the toll charges for the common man.

The MPs, former MPs and legislators are once again privileged to enjoy seamless travel by not having to pay any toll charges, an arrangement which had been done away with earlier in a bid to increase revenue receipts.

But what takes the cake is the deal the MPs have struck for themselves with the Railways. The MPs raised issues pertaining to their own convenience at the latest meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee for the Railways, the purpose of which is to consider steps for the common passenger’s safety and smooth travel. Yielding to the MPs’ pressure, the Railways have issued orders that the demands for reservation by MPs and Ministers must not go unfulfilled. In case an excessive number of MPs and Ministers intend to travel by a particular train on a particular day exceeding the quota earmarked as High Official Requisition (HOR), then they must be accommodated under other quotas like Foreign Tourist Quota, Parliament House Quota or Defence Department Quota.

The MPs attending the Standing Committee meeting also demanded that the Railways keep them informed of their reservation status and that a designated nodal officer be posted at each main railway station to address issues relating to MPs’ reservations. Consequently the Railway Board has directed all 16 zonal railway offices to not only identify important stations under their respective jurisdiction but also the movement of MPs.

These zonal general managers have also been vested with the responsibility of nominating the station manager or station superintendent as the nodal officer with the directive that they coordinate on all matters pertaining to the MPs’ travel.

The zonal railways have been ordered to put in place a mechanism for informing the MPs of the status of reservation in case the accommodation is provided in a lower than booked class. It will be the responsibility of the nodal officer to maintain with him all the details including the phone and mobile number of the MP whose constituency is served by that location or whose movement is frequent from that location. The nodal officers have also been directed to provide their contact numbers to the MPs.

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