“Plan Bee” Gets Elephants To Buzz Off Railway Tracks

Indian Railways have come up with a novel way of getting elephants to buzz off from train tracks: speakers that play the sound of bees to scare the jumbos away.

Almost 70 elephants were killed by trains between 2013 and June this year, mostly in Assam and West Bengal.

But nearly 50 buzzing amplifiers have been deployed as part of “Plan Bee” at a dozen “elephant corridors” in the vast forests of Assam, home to nearly 6,000 elephants, 20 percent of the country’s total.

“We were looking for means to stop the elephants from coming on to the tracks and our officers came up with this device,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, an Indian Railways spokesperson, told AFP.

The buzzing is played as trains approach vulnerable points and can be heard up to 600 metres away, the spokesman said.

The devices were tested for efficiency in 2017 on domesticated elephants, and then wild ones, before they were deployed for real last year.

The novel approach has won the team accolades from animal conservationists and on Tuesday an award for “best innovative idea” from Indian Railways for Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

Elephants have long been known to be frightened by the buzzing of bees and stings.

Villagers in Kerala have been using “beehive fences” to scare away marauding elephants.

When elephants touch the fences, bees inside boxes attached to the fences storm out angrily to defend their colonies.

Besides the dangers posed to elephants and trains alike on railways, there has been an increase in man-animal conflict across the country that conservationists blame on the shrinking of habitat for the wild animals.

Nearly 2,300 people have been killed by elephants in the last five years, according to official figures released in June.

The elephants too are paying a heavy price with around 700 fatalities in the last eight years.

Most were killed by electric fences, poisoned or shot by locals angry at family members being killed or crops being destroyed, and accidents on railway lines cutting through migratory routes.

Indian Railways Recruiting For Over 2.94 Lakh Vacancies: Government

More than 2.98 lakh positions were vacant at Railways as on June 1 this year and recruitment process is going on for over 2.94 lakh employees, according to the government. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal Wednesday told the Lok Sabha that more than 4.61 lakh people were recruited in Railways over the last decade. Noting that filling up of vacancies is an ongoing process, Mr Goyal said cadre strength is decided after taking into consideration various factors, including leave reserves and trainee reserves.

“The number of employees were 16,54,985 in 1991 and 12,48,101 in 2019. However, this has not affected the service of Railways,” Mr Goyal said in a written reply.

Read: RRB Paramedical Exam Date, City Details Soon

Vacancies are filled through Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and Railway Recruitment Cells (RRCs).

As per data provided in the written reply, there were 2,98,574 vacancies across A, B, C and erstwhile D categories at the Railways as on June 1, 2019.

Read: NTPC Admit Card 2019: RRB Exams (Tentatively) Scheduled From June, No Updates Yet

The process for recruitment of 2,94,420 employees is going on.

In 2018-19, action was initiated to fill up 2,94,420 vacancies.

“Examinations have been held for 1,51,843 posts and will be held for 1,42,577 posts in 2019-20, for which employment notification were issued in 2019, duly taking the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota into account,” Mr Goyal said.

Read: RRBs Announce New Dates For Re-scheduled JE Exam; Details Here

According to him, output and quality of service depends not only on workforce but also on the extent of use of technology and automation of systems.

“Therefore, it is not correct to correlate the quality of service with employee strength,” Mr Goyal said.

Railway Paramedical Recruitment Exam Details Tomorrow

Railway Recruitment Boards (RRB) will release the details of the exam to be held for recruitment to paramedical category posts. The test will be computer based (CBT) and will be held on July 19, July 20 and July 21. Tomorrow (July 9) RRBs will release the exam city and exam date for individual candidates. The “Link will be published on all RRBs’ official websites shortly and candidates will be informed through their registered mobile and e-mail ID given in their online application,” reads the official update.

For the RRB paramedical CBT, mock test link will be generated on July 9, as well. This will help candidates get familiar with the computer based test.

RRBs will also release the travel pass for SC/ ST candidates tomorrow. Such candidates who have opted for the travel pass can download the same online from the official website.

“Candidates may login with their credentials on the above mentioned dates through the link to be provided on the official websites of RRBs for knowing their Exam City, Date, Session, downloading Travel Pass (for SC/ST candidates only) and E-Call letter,” reads the update given by the RRBs.

E-call letter or the exam admit card will be released 4 days before the exam which is from July 15.

Candidates were intimated about their candidature on June 7. RRBs had released the eligibility/ ineligibility status of individual candidates online.

The CBT will be of 90 minutes duration and will have 100 questions in total. For every incorrect answer, one-third of the total marks will be deducted as penalty.

Suburban Train Services Hit After Tree Branches Fall On Mumbai Local

The suburban services of the Central Railway were affected briefly this morning after some branches of a tree fell on a platform cover and a local train standing at Mulund station, a senior official said.

The train services were restored within half an hour, the official added.

“Due to strong winds, a few branches of a tree located outside the Mulund station, fell on the cover over platform (CoP) and got entangled with the pantograph of a stationary local. The incident took place before 7 am,” chief spokesperson of Central Railway Sunil Udasi said.

“Our team of engineers and other staff removed the branches and restored the wires. The suburban services resumed within a half an hour and there was no major impact on the operations,” he added.

The tree was trimmed following the incident, Mr Udasi said, adding that before the onset of monsoon, the Central Railway had trimmed several trees standing along the railway tracks.

“Gaon, Gareeb Aur Kisan Our Focus,” Says Nirmala Sitharaman In Budget

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, announcing the Union Budget for 2019-20 in Parliament on Friday, said India will become a $3 trillion economy this year. “It is now the sixth largest economy Five years ago it was 11th,” the Finance Minister said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second government, she said, had set the ball rolling for new India. Public-private partnership (PPP) for railways, in order to strengthen infrastructure, was among the highlights of her speech. In its economic survey yesterday, the government had predicted that the economy will rebound and grow at 7 per cent this year, while outlining plans on how to double its economy by 2024-25 to $5 trillion.
Here are 10 things to know about the Budget 2019:
  1. Ms Sitharaman could lower corporate taxes for small and medium-sized businesses as well as personal ones to revive consumption by the middle class while withdrawing some tax exemptions.
  2. The Budget comes at a time when India has lost its top spot as the world’s fastest-growing major economy. India’s GDP or gross domestic product growth slipped to 5.8 per cent in the March quarter – the slowest pace in 20 quarters. A primary focus in the Budget is widely expected to be on ways to boost economic growth.
  3. Many analysts expect that the personal income tax structure will not be tweaked, as it may contradict the government’s aim to expand taxpayers’ base. However, some expect tax implications for the super rich, such as reintroduction of a long-abolished inheritance tax.
  4. Ms Sitharaman also has to take into account a tough disinvestment target in a slowing economy. The government is looking to raise Rs. 90,000 crore from disinvestment in 2019-20, up 5.88 per cent from Rs. 85,000 crore it received the previous year.
  5. The Finance Ministry may also focus on steps to boost employment and exports. It may consider fiscal incentives like interest rate subvention and lower tax rates for up to a certain turnover threshold for small businesses.
  6. In its Economic Survey 2019 prepared by the new Chief Economic Adviser KV Subramanian, the government projected the GDP or gross domestic product to grow at 7 per cent in financial year 2019-20, while outlining plans on how to double its economy by 2024-25 to $5 trillion.
  7. The government is likely to stick to a modest rise in defence spending in Budget because of tight government finances, news agency Reuters quoted officials as saying in a report earlier this week. That would further delay a long-planned military modernisation programme.
  8. “The focus of the budget will be to boost domestic consumption, address the rural crisis and support small manufacturers,” Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP’s economic affairs spokesman, told Reuters.
  9. Any announcements aimed at addressing the crisis in the non-banking financial companies (NBFC) sector – also known as the shadow banking sector – will be watched closely, say analysts. Last year, the government took control of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services after its defaults triggered fears about contagion in the financial sector.
  10. In the interim Budget announcements in February, the government made a number of big ticket announcements to build public perception. Those measures included a Rs. 75,000-crore income guarantee scheme from small farmers and a full tax rebate to individuals earnings up to Rs. 5 lakh a year.

Bullet Train Station In Thane To Be Reworked To Save Mangroves: Authority


NHSRCL, the implementing agency of the Railways” bullet train project, said Saturday that they have reworked the design of the station in Thane, Maharashtra, to reduce the number of affected mangroves from the estimated 53,000 to 32,044.

National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHRSCL) MD Achal Khare said in a statement that all the required wildlife, forest and CRZ clearance has been taken. He said the forest clearance came with a few conditions. The Environment Ministry had put a condition that the Thane station design be reviewed so that the affected mangrove region can be reduced.

“That without changing the location of Thane station, in what all ways can we reduce the Mangrove region – this is what we discussed that design with Japanese engineers and modified it accordingly,” Mr Khare said.

“Passenger areas like the parking area and passenger handling area have now been moved out of the mangrove region. The location of station is the same but after redesigning it, earlier 12 hector mangrove region was getting affected in Thane, but now only three hector will get affected. So this way, we have reduced around 21,000 mangroves and now only 32,044 mangroves will get affected from the entire project. Earlier there were around 53,000 mangroves getting affected,” he said.

Mr Khare further said that the NHSRCL will get the mangroves affected by the bullet train project compensated at the rate of 1:5, by depositing money into mangroves cell, which will do the compensatory afforestation.

“So the number of mangroves which are getting cut is 32,044. Then around 1,60,000 new mangroves will be planted and the entire financial expense will be borne by NHSRCL. New mangroves will be planted through mangrove cells,” he added.

Earlier, Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote had said on Monday in a reply to a question in the state Legislative Council that as many as 54,000 mangroves spread over 13.36 hectares will be affected because of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor.

Worried About Your Train Reservation Status? Here Is How You Can Check PNR Status

Indian Railways allows its passengers to book wait-listed (WL) or reservation-against-cancellation (RAC) ticket apart from buying confirmed tickets for travelling on its trains. The PNR status of the ticket can be checked online on mobile applications and websites. The advance booking for train ticket opens 120 days before the date of journey, according to IRCTC’s official website – irctc.co.in. Passengers booking a ticket are assigned a passenger name record (PNR) number and a specific status while booking the tickets which can be confirmed later depending on the rush for that journey. If the passenger PNR status is marked as WL followed by a number, it means the passenger has a waitlisted status. (Also Read:Want To Book Indian Railways Tatkal Ticket? Find Out Timings, Charges Here)

PNR Status: Here is how you can check railways reservation status online:

Travellers who have booked a wait-listed or an RAC ticket can check their train PNR status by going online on indianrail.gov.in or clicking on NDTV Rail Beeps website application.

After logging on the page the user will be asked to put in their 10-digit PNR number which is mentioned on the top left side of the train ticket. Once the person mentions his or her PNR status he/she is required to click on the ‘check status’ link. Upon clicking that link reservation status will be displayed on the website.

Travellers can also check their reservation status by dialing 139 from their phones. Indian Railways also provides facility to check PNR status via SMS as well. In case of checking PNR status from SMS, travellers need to send an SMS to 139 mentioning their PNR number, Indian Railways said.

On a PNR which has all the passengers on waiting list at the time of charting, the name of such waitlisted passengers will not appear in the charts and such passengers, if found travelling, will be treated as unauthorized and charged accordingly, IRCTC noted on its website.

Delhi Man, Missing Since 2011 For Allegedly Killing Live-In Partner, Dies

 A man, who was on the run since 2011 for allegedly killing his live-in partner and abandoning her body outside New Delhi Railway station, died in a hospital in Delhi Wednesday, police said.

The accused, identified as Raju Gehlot, allegedly killed his live-in partner Neetu Solanki in 2011, they said.

Police said he got himself admitted to the hospital under a fake name to hide his identity. He was being treated for a liver ailment and died at a private hospital in Gurgaon Wednesday.

Police are probing whether he was accompanied by any relative or a friend. They are also investigating where Gehlot had been staying all these years.

The accused, a proclaimed offender, was carrying a reward of Rs. two lakh.

Neetu Solanki’s body was found stuffed inside an air bag near the New Delhi Railway Station on February 11, 2011 and had remained unidentified until February 23.

Neetu Solanki used to work in the hospitality sector of a private airline.

Raju Gehlot’s involvement in killing Neetu Solanki was revealed after the arrest of his relative Naveen Shokeen, who allegedly helped Gehlot indispose off the body.

How Tiny Insect Stopped Dozens Of Trains, Delayed 12,000 People In Japan

A slug has been blamed for a power outage that halted dozens of trains and delayed 12,000 passengers in Japan, the railway operator said Sunday.

The power failed on a couple of lines serving southern Japan operated by Kyushu Railway Co., known as JR Kyushu, on May 30.

The company was forced to cancel 26 train journeys and delay other services, causing chaos in a country known for the efficiency of its punctual transport systems.

Weeks after the power outage, JR Kyushu said they had found the culprit — a slug, which had made its way into an electrical power device installed near rail tracks.

“We tracked down the device responsible for the power failure… We initially thought what’s in there was a bug but it turned out to be a dead slug,” a company spokesman told AFP.

Local media said the slug had been burned to death after short-circuiting the device.

The official said he did not know if this set a new precedent but described it as “rare”.

Railways To Hire Public Relations Experts, Woo Social Media Influencers

A team of private public relations professionals will soon drive the railways’ publicity campaign both at the Union ministry in the national capital as well as in each of its zones, with the national transporter for the first time issuing a set of guidelines to hire such private agencies to manage its publicity.

Sources said currently, around 70 officers – including one chief public relations officer (PRO) in each of its 18 zones — were engaged in disseminating information to the media about the railways and running its social media handles, along with several senior PROs and public relation inspectors.

Now, a team of 17 private PR professionals will be hired for each zone to assist them.

“We already have private agencies working with us in the zones, who help us with our publicity work. This is not new. What we have done now is that we have tried to standardise the process,” a senior Railway Board official said.

According to the guidelines, a team of 17 trained professionals, including a team leader, a social media manager, content analysts, content writers, video editors and others — will be engaged in each zone. Each of these teams, sources said will be hired at a cost of around Rs.2 crore.

The model document for the selection of such an agency issued by the railways states that these teams will work in collaboration with the chief public relations officers (CPROs) and handle social media activities, aggregate the grievances received by the national transporter through such forums, analyse media coverage, assist in gathering and dissemination of information to the media and also prepare reports to be submitted monthly and quarterly to senior officials.

The teams will also be tasked with creating a dashboard in their respective zones, where all news articles and television clips concerning the zone will be available online. The sources said this alone would be accomplished at a cost of around Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh per team.

The teams will be formulating strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. They will also identify issues, themes and “social media influencers who are active in the media”, the sources said.

“Most of our officials engaged in publicity-related activities are not trained in this. They are railway officers. In this digital age, where communication is a significant aspect of governance, we need trained professionals. However, our CPROs will provide all the content and material for the information disseminated by these teams,” the Railway Board official

Southern Railway’s “Only English Or Hindi” Order Scrapped After Criticism

An order issued to officials of the Southern Railway to communicate only in English or Hindi was struck down on Friday following a new controversy in Tamil Nadu less than two weeks after a widespread uproar over allegations of Hindi being imposed on South Indian states.

In a circular dated June 12, the Chennai Division of the Southern Railway asked Divisional Control Offices and Station Masters to communicate either in English or Hindi, and avoid the use of regional languages, to prevent confusion.

Sources said the order was sent out after a collision between two trains was narrowly averted following a misunderstanding among officials speaking different languages.

Opposition parties, however, objected to the order. DMK and PMK called it another instance of Hindi being imposed on the state where the subject of linguistic identity is very sensitive.

DMK leader MK Stalin called it, “Hindi domination and destruction of a language” and warned Southern Railway that “We will stop you if you don’t stop this.” “They are playing with sentiments of Tamil people and provoking us,” he added. DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran also met the General Manager of Southern Railway.

Saying that a large number of North Indians were employed by the railways across Tamil Nadu, PMK Chief Dr Ramadoss said, “Non-Tamil-speaking railway employees ought to be instructed to learn Tamil. That’s the solution.”

Facing criticism, Southern Railways hastily scrapped the order, issuing a new one on Friday that asked officials to communicate without ambiguity.

Earlier this month, the central government made a big change in its draft education policyafter a huge outcry over a three-language plan that required children in southern states to compulsorily learn Hindi. In the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019, the reference to Hindi was removed in the controversial clause.

Last month, a panel led by Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, a former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), had put forward the draft that said Hindi and English would continue to be among the three languages students would study in schools, be it in Hindi or non-Hindi speaking states.

Thousands, especially in the southern states, had protested what was seen as an effort to make Hindi mandatory till Class 8.

The subject of Hindi being taught in schools in South India has been an emotive one, particularly in Tamil Nadu. In pre-Independence era, the region saw anti-Hindi protests in 1937 that went on till 1940. In 1965, the issue flared once again, triggering riots that killed as many as 70 people. The incident led to an assurance by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that Hindi will not be imposed on non-Hindi speaking states till they want and English would continue as a link language.

70 Trains Cancelled In Gujarat As Cyclone Vayu Inches Closer To Coastline

Seventy trains in Gujarat have been cancelled and twenty-eight have been partially cancelled by the railways as Cyclone Vayu inches closer to the state’s coastline. The cancellation of the trains will come into effect from today evening at 6 pm for two days for the areas which will be affected after Cyclone Vayu hits Gujarat’s coastline. Special trains will instead run from these areas, according to a statement tweeted by the Indian Railways. Cyclone Vayu, which instensified into a severe cyclonic storm yesterday, is expected to hit the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region.

Nearly three lakh people are being evacuated starting today as Cyclone Vayu is set to make landfall. They will be shifted to around 700 cyclone and relief shelters. Gujarat’s Gandhidham, Bhavnagar Para, Porbandar, Veravar and Okha will likely be the areas which will feel the most significant impact as the cyclone enters land.

The entire coastline has been on high alert since yesterday, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told reporters. Schools and colleges along the entire coastline will remain closed till tomorrow.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed preparations being made to brace the impact of the cyclone. The Home Ministry has also sent detailed advisories to Gujarat and the Union Territory of Diu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted to say the central government was “closely monitoring the situation” and said that he was “constantly in touch with state governments” to review the situation.

“Praying for the safety and wellbeing of all those affected by Cyclone Vayu. The Government and local agencies are providing real-team information, which I urge those in affected areas to closely follow,” he said in another tweet.

Stale Food Served On Board Vande Bharat Express, Say Railways Officials

A five star hotel in Kanpur is under the scanner for serving stale food to passengers, one of whom was Fatehpur Lok Sabha lawmaker and Union Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, on board the Railways’ fastest train Vande Bharat Express, senior IRCTC officials said Tuesday.

Acting on the complaint of a Colonel in the Indian Army, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) which provides food on board the train is likely to penalise the hotel which supplies food for the train.

The complaint was received on June 9, they said.

“We have received the complaint from the passenger and we will take action. Prima facie it looks like the five star hotel in Kanpur supplied rice which was not fresh to the passengers. The Group General Manager, North, IRCTC is now at the hotel inspecting their food preparing and packaging chain.

“They have noticed that they are carrying the food in a non-AC vehicle which could have caused the problem. Because of the extreme heat things got aggravated. But this cannot be allowed and we will take corrective measures,” Rajesh Kumar, Group General Manager, Tourism, IRCTC told PTI.

Temperature soared to a high of 48 degrees on Sunday as northern India faced extreme heat wave.

Woman’s Body Found In Delhi-Saharanpur Train

The body of a woman was found in the Delhi-Saharanpur Janta Express at Shamli railway station, the railway police said today.

The woman, whose body was found on Sunday evening, has not been identified yet, they said.

The body has been sent for post mortem, they added.

Indian Railways To Provide Massage Service On Board Running Trains For Rs. 100

For the first time in the history of Indian Railways, massage services will be made available for passengers on board running trains.

This facility will be made available in 39 trains departing from Indore, a railway official said today.

This was a proposal from the Ratlam division of Western Railway zone, the official said.

“This is the first time in history of railways that we will provide massaging service for passenger comfort on running trains. It will not only increase revenue but also add passengers. Railways will earn an additional revenue of Rs. 20 lakh annually and an estimated increase of Rs. 90 lakh per year through additional sale of tickets from about 20,000 passengers who will avail the services. This is the first time that such a contract has been signed,” said Rajesh Bajpai, director, media and communication, railway board.

The service will be available for Rs. 100 each for foot massage and head massage.

This scheme is part of the railways’ scheme whereby zones and divisions have been asked to come out with new and innovative ideas to generate non-fare revenue for the national transporter.

IRCTC Ticket Concession Rules For Senior Citizens: Five Things To Know

IRCTC or Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, the online ticketing arm of the Indian Railways, allows senior citizens, journalists and persons with disabilities to book concessional tickets through its website – irctc.co.in. Other eligible individuals can avail the concession by booking the tickets from the Passenger Reservation System (PRS) countersat the railway stations. For booking senior citizen concession tickets from IRCTC’s website, passengers are required to select “avail concession” option under “option for senior citizen concession” section of passenger details form. The quantum of these concession ranges from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, according to IRCTC.

Given below are key things to know about IRCTC senior citizen concession:

1. Concessions on fares are available for male senior citizens of minimum 60 years and female senior citizen of minimum 58 years. The element of concession is 40 per cent for men senior citizens and 50 per cent for women senior citizens, according to IRCTC.

2. The reduction in fares are available in all classes of Mail/Express/Rajdhani/Shatabdi/Jan Shatabdi/Duronto group of trains.

3. Passengers availing senior citizen concession have to carry a proof of age while travelling, according to IRCTC.

4. Senior citizen passengers who wish to opt out of the concession fully or some part and contribute towards nation development may book their tickets without the concession element. To book tickets without senior citizen concession, such passengers can select “forgo full concession” option under “option for senior citizen concession” section of passenger details form.

5. To book tickets with 50 per cent of senior citizen concession, such passengers can select “forgo 50 per cent concession” option under “option for senior citizen concession” section of passenger details form.

Trial Run Of Vande Bharat-Type Trains From Mumbai To Begin Next Week

Buoyed by the success of the Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Varanasi, the Railways is planning to explore the possibility of running such semi-high speed trains between Mumbai to Pune, Nashik and Vadodara.

The Vande Bharat Express has reduced the travel time between New Delhi and Varanasi by 40 per cent.

“We want to check whether the same train can be replicated for Mumbai to Pune or Mumbai to Nashik or Mumbai to Baroda (Vadodara)….trial runs will begin in the next week,” member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board Rajesh Agrawal said.

“We are going to start trial runs from the next week on the Vande-Bharat pattern. One AC-EMU rake and one non-AC MEMU rake will be given to the Central and Western Railways.

If the trial goes as per plan, we can reduce the travel time between Mumbai to Pune and Nashik to within two hours,” said Mr Agrawal, an ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India.

“No final decision has been taken yet. As of now, we are going to explore only the possibility,” he said.

Traffic congestion and upgradation of infrastructure including the tracks are bigger challenges for the railways, he said.

Mr Agrawal also said that by the end of March 2020, the railways has planned to run 12 AC locals in Mumbai, six each on the Central and Western suburban lines.

“We have no shortage of coaches as the coach production has seen a quantum jump…Till previous year, all coach factories used to produce less that 4,000 coaches annually and this year the number has been scaled up to 6,000.

Next year our target is to produce 8,000 coaches,” he said.

Mr Agrawal, who was in the city to review various works carried out by the Central Railway and Western Railway, lauded preparations for the monsoon, and expressed hope that even a rainfall of 200 mm in 24 hours will not disrupt the local train services this year.

BJP’s Go-To Man Piyush Goyal Retains Cabinet Post

From the BJP’s treasurer to its go-to man who has held coal, power, railways and finance portfolios, 54-year-old Piyush Goyal’s rise has been phenomenal.

A chartered accountant by profession, Mr Goyal, known for his corporate network developed during his days as an investment banker, is considered to be a key backroom strategist who played a significant role in resource mobilisation of the party.

Considered a blue-eyed boy of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, Mr Goyal was given the finance portfolio in May last year which he held till August, while Arun Jaitley was recuperating from a kidney transplant.

He was again handed over the charges of the Finance Ministry in January this year, when Mr Jaitley fell ill and presented the Interim Budget in Parliament.

Political observers say the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has not appointed another treasurer after Mr Goyal, depends on him to raise funds for the party.

Known to work with a team of around 20 trusted advisors, mostly graduates of top business schools, Mr Goyal has facts, figures, spreadsheets on the activities of his ministry at his disposal at all times. In fact, most of his public engagements through the day are streamed live on Twitter by his team.

As a railway minister, Mr Goyal, a Rajya Sabha member, achieved several firsts — it was during his tenure the government announced its first bullet train which would run from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, the prime minister’s home state, manufactured its first indigenously-built and engine-less high-speed train Vande Bharat Express, commissioned its longest bridge, converted a diesel loco into an electric one for the first time, built its first transport university, its first air-conditioned local train and perhaps its biggest first in last three decades – lowest accident figures.

He is also credited for making transformational changes in India’s power sector, including fast tracking of electrification of nearly 18,000 unelectrified villages, roll out of UDAY, a comprehensive reform of the power sector, world’s largest LED bulb distribution programme, UJALA for energy efficiency and a massive renewable energy expansion programme.

Mr Goyal, a technology buff, has also taken the initiative of digitising governance which he says brings transparency in the government — from e-auction of coal blocks to free WiFi across railway stations and live feed for passengers of how railway meals are cooked and packed — as a minister he has taken strides in using technology to simplify working of the ministries under him.

From an illustrious political family, his father Vedprakash Goyal was former Union minister of Shipping, and National Treasurer of the BJP for over two decades and his mother Chandrakanta Goyal was a three time MLA from Mumbai.

User Complains Of Obscene Ads On Railways App, Gets ‘Fact Checked’

The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) made an epic comeback after a user of its official ticket booking application complained of obscene advertisements on the app.

The IRCTC app user, named Anand Kumar, tweeted to IRCTC’s official account, tagging Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, that he was seeing obscene ads on the IRCTC app and even attached screenshots of the advertisements visible on his mobile screen.

“Obscene and vulgar ads are very frequently appearing on the IRCTC ticket booking app. This is very embarrassing and irritating @RailMinIndia @IRCTCofficial @PiyushGoyalOffc kindly look into it,” he tweeted.

Soon after IRCTC’s response on Twitter, social media flooded with memes, trolling the user.

Megha Kaveri tweeted, “When IRCTC burns you like there is no tomorrow.”

However, web developer named Gagandeep S Luthra said that the IRCTC’s HTML code shows Javascript loaded from a push notification platform, which is not strictly monitored and one can send any link.

“A look at the irctc html code shows Javascript Loaded from http://izooto.com, which is a Push Notification Platform. Push Notifications are not strictly monitored and one can send any vulgar link endlessly using that. I was surprised to see its use on irctc,” Luthra tweeted, attaching the screenshot of the HTML codes.

Electric Bus Service Starts In Jammu City

For the first time in Jammu and Kashmir, an electric bus service was operationalised on Monday in Jammu city. An official statement said, “K Skandan, advisor to state Governor today flagged off the electric bus service from Railway Station, Jammu.” The advisor said that the government would initially operate 40 electric buses in the state.

He emphasised on running more electric buses that would protect the environment and also benefit the people. He said that with the commencement of electric bus service, the state has made advances towards an electric vehicle fleet for its public transport needs as these buses are fully eco-friendly with no pollution.

An electric bus can cover a distance of around 150 kms on a single charge besides various charging stations would be installed at different locations en route the destinations. The buses have also been equipped with CCTV cameras.