New Delhi: The Ministry of Railways resorted to window dressing for presenting its working expenses and operating ratio in a better light, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said in its report on assessment of railways’ finances for FY 19.

Pointing that the net surplus in 2018-19 was Rs 3,773.86 crore, the Indian Railways would have ended with a negative balance of Rs 7,334.85 crore but for receipt of advance freight and less appropriation to Disaster Relief Fund and Pension Fund.

The Railways could not achieve even revised earnings target of Rs 1,97,214 crore, the report, tabled in the Parliament on Wednesday said.

“Ministry of Railways (MoR) resorted to window dressing for presenting the working expenses and operating ratio in a better light,” it said.

During 2018-19, Indian Railways generated total internal earnings of Rs. 1,90,507 crore against the targeted internal earnings of Rs. 2,01,090 crore, the report said.

Against the target of 92.8 per cent in the Budget Estimates, the operating ratio of railways was 97.29
per cent in 2018-19. Operating ratio indicates the amount of money the Indian Railways spends to earn each rupee.

However, if advance freight of Rs 8,351 crore from NTPC and CONCOR was not included in the earnings of 2018-19, OR would have been 101.77 per cent instead of 97.29
per cent, the report said.

“Review of identification and sanction of projects for EBR (extra budgetary resources) funding revealed that financially unviable projects were sanctioned,” the report said.

An amount of Rs. 15,922 crore was incurred from EBR towards 79 unremunerative projects. The criteria for exclusion of projects pending land acquisition was not followed, the report said, adding that 111 such projects were funded from EBR.

While none of these were completed as on 31 March 2019, there were instances of irregular utilization to the tune of Rs. 1,495 crore from EBR funds, it said.

The audit also noted that there was heavy dependence on transportation of coal which constituted around 47% of the total freight earnings of Rs 51,067 crore during 2018-19. “Any shift in bulk commodities transport pattern could affect the freight earnings significantly,” it said.

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