New Delhi, May 20: The government today conferred on the railway board all the powers and functions of the Centre, bringing it on a par with the telecom commission and the postal commission.
The move is aimed at increasing efficiency and ensuring effective implementation of the Centre’s policies.
“The railway board members will have powers and responsibilities on a par with members of the telecom commission or postal commission. This also effectively gives them financial and administrative powers for efficient and faster implementation of policies and programmes,” a railway ministry spokesperson said. The notification has been issued under sub-section (1) of Section 89 of the Railways Act, 1989, investing the board with all the powers and functions of the Centre.
The railway board comprises a chairman and six other members: member (mechanical), member (engineering), member (traffic), member (electrical), member (staff) and financial commissioner. All the members are in the rank and pay of secretary to the Government of India, with the chairman being a principal secretary to the government.
There is also an expanded board comprising the board members, the expenditure secretary, finance ministry and the secretary of the planning commission to consider and approve projects up to Rs 50 crore and above before their approval by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
“This was a long standing demand from the railway ministry. With this notification, the members will wield powers to provide direction to the policies and decisions taken by the railway board. Earlier, the decisions taken by the board had to be approved by various government agencies. Now it will be possible for the railway board members to give the go ahead to the day-to-day policy decisions without waiting for an approval,” said a senior railway board official.