Rajya Sabha MPs will now have to pay the fares for train journeys which they booked but did not undertake.
In an advisory to MPs of the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha Secretary General has clarified it will no longer compensate them for train journey bookings which have not been availed.
The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has also found randomly that 87 per cent of total cost for journeys have not been undertaken and neither have they been cancelled. Resultantly, the Secretariat has to cough up the amount and pay up to the Railways.
RS Secretary General Desh Deepak Verma in an advisory to MPs has asked them to cancel unused train bookings, failing which recoveries will be made from them.
“Members are requested to cancel all such bookings which are not likely to be utilised, well in advance. In case of non-cancellation of bookings which are not actually utilised by members, the amount of fare of such bookings shall be recovered from the members,” the advisory said.
It noted that from the details of debit claims raised by the Ministry of Railways, multiple bookings were being made by some members in various trains departing from the same/different stations to different destinations for the same day.
The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has to make payments to the Ministry of Railways even for those bookings which are actually not utilised by the members.
MPs are entitled to free travel in Railways in first/executive class and can take an accomplice along with in the lower classes.
Mr Verma said members should appreciate that non-performance of journey on reserved berths and non-cancellation in time leads to unnecessary expenditure and avoidable drain on the budget, even as it puts the public to inconvenience as they fail to get confirmed berths/seats.
With Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, desiring to know the extent of multiple bookings and their implications, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has done an analysis of the number of bookings made and actual journeys undertaken by some sitting and former members of the Rajya Sabha, sources said.
A former member of Rajya Sabha is learnt to have made as many as 63 bookings of up to 4 per day on 23 days in January 2019, costing a total of Rs 1.69 lakh, they said.
The said former MP has confirmed having travelled by train only on 7 occasions against a total train fare of only Rs 22,085, which in effect means that the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has to pay an extra amount of Rs. 1,46,920, about 87 per cent of the total.
In respect of a sitting member too, the sources said, the analysis done by the Secretariat revealed the actual journeys during January 2019 amounted to only 15 pc of the total claim of Railways, forcing the Secretariat to pay 85 per cent extra for journeys not performed.
For the calendar year 2019, the Railways has raised a demand of Rs 7.8 crore to be made by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat as 1/3rd share of the total cost of train travel by sitting and former MPs, their spouses and companions. The remaining 2/3rd of the total cost is to be paid by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
Sources said Railways has agreed to change the software for train bookings by the Members of Parliament to enable identification of bookings by the members of both the Houses separately. This new software is likely to be operationalised soon.