RS members advised to cancel unutilised train bookings

Rajya Sabha

New Delhi, (Asian independent) The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has advised members of the Upper House of Parliament to ensure cancellation of unavailed bookings of train journeys they are entitled to, sources said on Friday.

A bulletin has been issued to the members after taking cognisance of alleged large-scale multiple bookings for train travels being made by Rajya Sabha members, with the Secretariat required to pay for the journeys not undertaken.

As per sources, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat paid Rs 8 crore to the Indian Railways for free travel facitlities availed of by Rajya Sabha members. As the bill for 2019 was higher than usual, the Railways blamed it on serious malpractices by the MPs.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had expressed serious displeasure over this “misuse of public money”.

With Naidu desiring to know the extent of multiple bookings done by members and their implications, the Secretariat has done an analysis of the number of bookings made and actual journeys undertaken by some sitting and former members.

For the calendar year 2019, the Railways raised a demand for payment of Rs 7.8 crore to be made by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat as one third share of the total cost of train travel by sitting and former members of Parliament, their spouses and companions. The rest two third is to be paid by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

The source said members of the Rajya Sabha are being advised for some years to avoid multiple train bookings and to cancel the unutilised bookings.

The sources said that the Railways have since agreed to change the software for train bookings by members of Parliament to enable identification of bookings by members of both the Houses separately. This new software is likely to be operationalised soon.