After a six-month delay, the Railways on Tuesday approved recommendations of the Dr Sam Pitroda committee on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) initiatives for providing better passenger services.
Appointed with much fanfare in October last as chairman of the Railways ICT committee, Pitroda had submitted a set of five substantive recommendations for approval by the Railway Board on February 16.
These were to have been integrated in the Railways Minister's budget speech for 2010-11 and taken up for urgent implementation.
Quizzed about the delay, Railway Ministry spokesman Anil Kumar Saxena said there were because of "security related issues". Sources said the Pitroda-files had been held up because of Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee's preoccupations over last months.
Ministry officials maintained that the Railway Minister's approval was not needed in the matter.
"The Board had to approve the file, while Railway Minister had only to be informed about it," they said.
Pitroda's office said he was not willing to speak to the media at the juncture. So far, Pitroda has held five meetings, while the 6th meeting has been scheduled for September 13.
Agenda for the meeting includes discussions on the revamp of ICT applications for enabling e-signaling, modernisation of freight management systems and issues concerning the safety at level crossing gates.
The tech-guru's idea is to extend usage of the Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN) network to passengers to provide real-time train information to them through the internet, mobile phones or Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS).
Other suggestions include integration of 35 railway websites into one portal and introduction of paper-less ticketing.