CBI has arrested two senior railway officials and a businessman for alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other superfast trains. Sandeep Silas, a 1984-batch Indian railway traffic service (IRTS) officer, and MS Chalia of 1987 batch were taken into custody late last night along with Sharan Bihari Agrawal, owner of RK Associates, in connection with the scam, CBI sources said on Sunday.
The arrests came after CBI recovered Rs 27 crore cash from Agrawal and his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal during searches last Friday. The two railway officials and Sharan Bihari Agrawal were produced in the court which has sent them to one day police custody.
CBI spokesperson said they would be produced in Patiala House court on Monday again.
Both the officials were immediately suspended after CBI carried out searches at their residences on October 17. CBI has registered a case against Chalia, Silas and seven private companies—RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World—under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
It is alleged that the two officials, who held the position of chief commercial manager, had shown favour to these private firms in supply of cheap packaged drinking water other than ‘Rail Neer’ which is mandatory in premium trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi.
CBI had said that the railway board had prescribed that IRCTC shall provide Rail Neer at the rate of around Rs 10.50 per bottle to private caterers and they would be paid (approx) Rs 15 per bottle for supplying the same to the passengers in premium trains. However, in order to make undue gains, the private suppliers were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, other than ‘Rail Neer’, available in the market at a rate of Rs 5.70 to Rs 7 (approx) per bottle, thereby making profits for themselves and loss to the exchequer.
“The accused public servants allegedly did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in premium trains despite repeatedly being informed by IRCTC about non-picking of allotted quota of ‘Rail Neer’ by them,” the CBI spokesperson said. CBI said directions of railway board to ensure supply of ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains were also ignored by the officials thereby causing undue pecuniary advantage to the private parties and corresponding loss to the IRCTC.