When Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presented the Rail Budget for 2016-17 this week, he saved as many as 12 lakh sheets of A-4 size paper and printing of 26 lakh pages, as part of his plan to make Indian Railways digital.
A senior railway official said the Budget Wing of the Ministry of Railways took the initiative by resorting to an alternative methodology of communicating budget information on need-based selective method, thereby reducing the unwanted paper communication to various field units of Railways.
“The information was sent using IT tools—intranet, internet, email, etc. This effort resulted in saving of 12 lakh sheets of A-4 size paper and printing of 26 lakh pages. This amounts to a significant contribution to conservation of environment resources, besides financial savings,” the official said.
According to the official, Indian Railways launched a new micro-site http://www.railbudget2016.indianrailways.gov.in for the latest Railway budget update and live budget watch. It is a one-stop shop for all Railway budget related information. “Complete latest information with regard to Railway budget 2016-17 and all current data base is available on this micro-site for ready reference for media and common public,” he said.
As part of the digitalisation process, the ministry is also working on a plan to issue paperless unreserved tickets through mobile phones. Accordingly, a paperless Unreserved Ticketing Mobile Application, “UTSONMOBILE” has been developed. The application for paperless journey tickets was rolled out as a pilot project between Chennai Egmore and Tambaram suburban section of Southern Railway last year. It was subsequently extended to the suburban section of Western Railway, Central Railway, New Delhi-Palwal section of Northern Railway and Kolkata suburban section of Eastern Railway. This facility was recently launched in the suburban section of South Central Railway.
At the same time, TTEs will also be given hand-held terminals (HHTs), which will help in updating the passenger lists of the whole train. With the help of these terminals, after all the allotments, the remaining vacant berths will be sent back to HHT application servers and can be viewed on the Indian Railway website (indianrail.gov.in). Occupancy chart can be viewed on HHT device to dispense with the manual operation of food-chart/occupancy chart.
The Ministry has been laying emphasis on avoiding the unnecessary use of paper, duly substituted by better and increasing use of computer based communication. The official said that Indian Railways has initiated the process of conducting recruitments online, for which social media is being used as a tool to bring in transparency in its day to day working. All procurement, including procurement of works, has moved to the e-platform.
As part of making Indian Railways digital, the organisation is gradually switching over to paperless contract management system, where not only tenders are invited online, but the entire process leading to the awarding of a tender is done electronically. A trial run has been conducted and Indian Railways intends to roll it out on a pan-India basis in the next financial year.