The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has advised the railway board to take “no action” against two former officers of Integral Coach Factory, Chennai who had been facing departmental vigilance probe for alleged irregularities in the procurement of three phase propulsion equipment for Train-18.
Train 18 is popularly known as Vande Bharat trains. The clearance from the anti-corruption watchdog came just days before the two officers retired last month. The CVC communication of August 28 said, “Further, the Commission has observed that the clause that has been found to be restrictive by the railway board doesn’t appear to be restrictive in view of the response received against the tenders.”
Disagreeing with the disciplinary authority and the principal executive director (vigilance), the CVC advised “no action” against S P Varve, who was formerly with the ICF. It also issued similar advice for another former ICF official, N K Gupta. Sources said the CVC also has not found any merit in the railway ministry’s contention against three other officers that the eligibility criteria for bidding were restrictive.
The communication to the railway board concerning these three officers may come this week. They added the CVC has called for a presentation from the railway board on this issue on September 24. The railway had carried out a departmental vigilance probe against Varve, Gupta and three other senior officers Sudhanshu Mani, Subhranshu and Amitabh Singhal, who played key role in rolling out of the prestigious Vande Bharat train sets, which were flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
A railway official said, “There have been certain cases at ICF which have been investigated from a vigilance angle. The said case of Train-18 is yet to be sent to CVC. So far as the Railway Board is concerned, there is zero tolerance for any irregularity of any kind. Each case is probed on merit and investigated as per the well laid down norms.”
The manufacturing of Vande Bharat train sets was halted at the ICF soon after the departmental investigation started against the alleged irregularities. Now the railway board has taken charge of inviting tenders for the 44 Vande Bharat train sets, which, some officials said, is contrary to the earlier decision of entrusting the task of tendering to respective general managers of zones.
However, ministry officials said this is being done since now the trains will be manufactured at three facilities; ICF (Chennai), RCF (Kapurthala) and MCF (Rae Bareli).