Government to fix autonomy limits for railway tariff regulator

Government to fix autonomy limits for railway tariff regulator : The railways and law ministries are working together to finalise the extent of autonomy that the proposed rail tariff regulator would enjoy.

Exceptional situations where the Railways can issue policy directives to the regulator will be built into the Rail Tariff Authority Act, Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumarsaid.

“The two ministries are working on Section 29 (O) of the Rail Tariff Authority Act which would identify certain exceptional situations where the Railways can supersede the policy directives of the RTA,” he said. He confirmed that the authority will be created through an executive order or a resolution.

Earlier this month, while giving an in-principle nod to the idea of the Rail Tariff Authority (RTA), the Cabinet had asked the law ministry to look into whether the RTA can be set up through an executive order.

In its original proposal, the Railways had pitched for a body that would have more than advisory powers which would have required an amendment in the Railways Act, 1989.

Kumar, however, said that despite this, RTA would have enough teeth. The RTA was proposed by former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi. The authority is important for the resource-starved Railways as it is aimed at de-linking the tariff from political interferences.

The authority is proposed to be an independent 5 member body headed by its chairman with the power to decide both freight and passenger fares. In June, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had directed that the RTA proposal be accelerated and brought to Cabinet soon.

Similar clauses have been built in for other regulators like the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. Section 25 in the Trai Act lays down that “the Centre may, from time to time, issue to the Authority such directions as it may think necessary in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign sStates, public order, decency or morality.” Kumar refused to elaborate on the specific conditions under which the government would have powers to direct or supersede the decisions of the rail tariff regulator.

Government to fix autonomy limits for railway tariff regulator

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