New Delhi: Despite suffering huge revenue losses in its core passenger segment due to the coronavirus crisis, the railways seems to have hit pay dirt in its earnings from the sale of scrap, registering its highest ever revenue of Rs 4,575 crore under this head in 2020-21, an RTI query has found.
The previous best scrap-sale value was Rs 4,409 crore in 2010-2011.
In the Indian Railways, scrap materials are generated mainly by way of laying new tracks, converting old tracks into new ones, abandoning old structures, selling old locomotives, coaches and wagons, selling old surplus or condemned diesel locomotives due to rapid electrification of routes and waste materials generated by workshops. This has been a significant source of revenue for the national transporter over the years.
In a reply to a query filed under the Right of Information (RTI) Act by Madhya Pradesh-based Chandra Shekhar Gaur, the Railway Board has said the revenue from scrap sales during the Covid pandemic-affected 2020-21 was five per cent more than the previous year.
The revenue from the sale of various types of scrap material was Rs 4,333 crore in 2019-2020 and it was Rs 4,575 crore in 2020-21, it has said.
The railways has also worked towards making the scrap sales more accessible and transparent. All the auctions and money transactions in the railways are being done electronically, which eliminates chances of corruption in scrap sales and makes the system transparent and accessible to all the stakeholders, a spokesperson for the national transporter said.
The railways conducted 100 per cent e-auctions through auction-conducting officers in divisions and store depots. Scraps are sold in lots and these lots are formed by the segregation of a similar nature of items such as ferrous, non-ferrous, rails, track items, PSC sleepers, locomotives, wagons, coaches etc.
"During FY 2020-21, a scrap sale of Rs 4,575 crore was achieved by the Indian Railways against the Railway Board's target of Rs 4,000 crore. This was the highest-ever scrap sale figure achieved by the Indian Railways. This is about 14 per cent higher than the set target and about five per cent higher than the scrap sale figure of the previous financial year.
"This figure was achieved despite the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020-21 and almost nil sale activity in the first quarter of 2020-21. The scrap sale got momentum, especially during the last quarter of 2020-21, with the highest level of cooperation among the departments concerned in the zonal railways and not only the target was achieved, but it was surpassed. Zonal railway wise, the highest figure of Rs 491 crore was achieved by the Western Railway," the spokesperson said.
Officials said for FY 2021-22, a scrap sale target of Rs 4,100 crore has been fixed by the Railway Board. Despite the effect on sale activities due to the second wave of COVID-19 during the first quarter, a cumulative scrap sale of Rs 444 crore has been done as on June 20.