Rail Neer scam: Railway officers arrested, CBI lens on catering major Comesum

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New Delhi | Updated: October 18, 2015 9:43:28 PM

A major player in Railway catering service, Comesum group, has come under scanner of CBI which has arrested two senior rail officials and a businessman in connection with alleged corruption...

CBI officials with cash amounting to more than 20 crores recovered during search of seven private firms that allegedly supplying cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory “Rail Neer” in premium trains. PTICBI officials with cash amounting to more than 20 crores recovered during search of seven private firms that allegedly supplying cheap packaged drinking water (PDW) other than mandatory “Rail Neer” in premium trains. PTI

A major player in Railway catering service, Comesum group, has come under scanner of CBI which has arrested two senior rail officials and a businessman in connection with alleged corruption in supply of packaged drinking water in Rajdhani and other superfast trains.

Sandeep Silas, a 1984-batch Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer, and MS Chalia of 1987 batch were taken into custody late last night along with Sharan Bihari Agrawal, owner of R K Associates, in connection with the scam, CBI sources said today.

The trio were produced in the court today which has sent them to one day police custody.

CBI spokesperson said they would be produced in Patiala House court tomorrow again.

Both officers were immediately suspended after CBI carried out searches at their residences on October 17.

CBI sources claimed CEO of RK Associates Rajiv Mittal’s residence was searched yesterday as part of its probe from where cash worth Rs 52 lakh was recovered while another Rs one crore was recovered from Sagar Residency in Ashram here.

The recovery has taken the total cash to be around Rs 28 crore during its searches.

Mittal is one of the Directors of the the Comesum Group, the web site of which states that “Comesum Food Plaza is a brainchild of RK Associates”.

“This has been primarily possible only when Rahul Agrawal, Abhishek Agrawal and a cousin Rajiv Mittal set up Comesum,” it says.

Repeated calls to Comesum on the numbers given on its web site did not elicit any response. The queries sent through email also remained unasnwered.

CBI sources said although the company is not named as accused in the FIR, it will be probed for association with accused companies besides flow of funds.

The role of Agrawals in Comesum will also be probed further.

CBI has registered a case against Chalia, Silas and seven private companies RK Associates Pvt Ltd, Satyam Caterers Pvt Ltd, Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate, PK Associates Pvt Ltd, Sunsine Pvt Ltd, Brandavan Food Product and Food World under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

During searches on Friday last, CBI had recovered Rs 27 crore cash from Agrawal, his sons Abhishek Agrawal and Rahul Agarwal, who own RK Associates and Brandavan Food Product.

It is alleged that the two accused officials, who held the position of Chief Commercial Manager, had shown favour to these private firms in supply of cheap packaged drinking water other than ‘Rail Neer’ which is mandatory in premium trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi.

CBI had said that the Railway Board had prescribed that IRCTC shall provide Rail Neer at the rate of around Rs 10.50 per bottle to private caterers and they would be paid (approx) Rs 15 per bottle for supplying the same to the passengers in premium trains.

However, in order to make undue gains, the private suppliers were allegedly supplying cheap packaged water, other than ‘Rail Neer’, available in the market at a rate of Rs 5.70 to Rs 7 (approx) per bottle, thereby making profits for themselves and loss to the exchequer.

The accused public servants allegedly did not take any action against the private parties providing catering services in premium trains despite repeatedly being informed by IRCTC about non-picking of allotted quota of ‘Rail Neer’ by them, CBI spokesperson said.

CBI said the directions of Railway Board to ensure supply of ‘Rail Neer’ in premium trains were also ignored by the officials thereby causing undue pecuniary advantage to the private parties and corresponding loss to the IRCTC.

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