Two private cement makers, one of them located in south India, are under the CBI scanner in its probe into the high-tech manipulations of Indian railways’ static and Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridges (EIMWB) at 65 nation-wide locations for being alleged beneficiaries of the resultant under-weighment and under-invoicing.
The agency is likely to mention the roles of the two firms in their multiple FIRs, which are likely to be registered in the probe once the data gathered from the raids at the 65 locations is analysed, said an agency source. According to the source, the agency may take clarifications from a key member of the Railway Board, whose responsibilities include supervising the railways’ freight operations. The agency will also quiz other railway officials and officials of the six railways-approved private vendors running its 200 EIMWB — 65 of which were examined by it.
“Our raids, which were spread across 18 states, revealed major manipulations in the software and hardware of the weighment apparatuses. Among the key beneficiaries of the manipulations for achieving under-weighment and under-invoicing were the two cement makers, located in south-India and central India, as per preliminary findings.”
According to the source, at certain EIMWBs that were examined by the CBI, the software was programmed to ensure consistent under-weighment of wagons containing cement despite varying the rake’s speed including the prescribed 15 km/hour.
“The manipulations could have caused losses worth thousands of crores to the exchequer and also damaged the tracks since freight wagons were overloaded but programmed to stay concealed,” said a CBI source. “Even a 5% under-reporting of actual weight of freight leads to a difference of Rs 4,263 cr by 2012-13 figures,” said the source.