Mahesh Kumar — arrested by the CBI in the rail bribery scam — was allegedly hoping that as railway board member (electrical) he would get a slice of the high value contracts, worth crores of rupees, that the Railways expect to award over the next few years.
The Railways is planning big ticket projects, including building High Speed Rail Corridors and installing Train Protection Warning Systems and Train Collision Avoidance Systems, which are hugely capital intensive.
The member (electrical) presides over decisions to award annual contracts for rail electrification, as also the contracts for the supply of electricity, air-conditioning and generator power for all railway infrastructure.
The member is also responsible for taking final decisions on awarding contracts for procuring equipment for upgrade of signaling and telecom systems.
Big contracts for building electric locomotive factory at Dankuni in West Bengal and Madhepura in Bihar are also planned to be awarded.
Kulbhushan, presently the member (electrical) is among the candidates in line for the post of railway board chairman, which falls vacant on July 1.
In the possibility of Kulbhushan’s elevation as the chairman, the post of member (electrical) would have gone to Mahesh Kumar in all likelihood — if the current controversy had not happened.
With Mahesh Kumar’s arrest, the succession war in the Railway Board has also been altered. In all likelihood, RS Virdhi (presently general manager of Northeast Frontier Railway) will replace Mahesh Kumar — who has been suspended as member (staff) — and will also be in line for the CRB’s job on July 1.
Meanwhile, the Railways have denied reports that norms were violated in appointing Mahesh Kumar as railway board member (staff).