In what comes as a piece of bad news for the Indian Railways, the CAG Audit Report has flagged concerns that the response to the ‘give it up’ scheme from the senior citizen passengers was not very encouraging.
The report stated that during 2015-2016 to 2017-2018, a total of ₹3894.32 crore was given as concession to 16.48 crore senior citizen passengers.
The number of such passengers had grown from 5.09 crore in 2015-2016 to 5.92 crore in 2017-2018 with the corresponding increase in the amount of concession from ₹1,194 crore to ₹1,411.23 crore, according to the audit report.
"The response to 'Give Up' scheme from the senior citizen passengers was not encouraging. The annual rate of growth in terms of number of passengers travelling in AC classes in all the categories of concessions was higher than that of the non-AC classes," the report stated.
The report said that out of total 4.41 crore senior citizen passengers, 7.53 lakh (1.7%) passengers opted to give up 50% concession and 10.9 lakh (2.47%) passengers gave up 100% concession.
Month-wise analysis showed that the number of senior citizens who gave up concession has declined since August 2017, a month after the scheme was introduced.
The number of female senior citizens availing concession increased by 8.40 per cent in 2017-2018 from the previous year while the number of male senior citizens increased by 8.54 per cent.
"The amount of revenue given as concession to female and male senior citizens registered a growth of 9.3 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively in the year 2017-2018 as compared to the previous year in terms of amounts allowed for concession," the report said.
The report said that 54 per cent senior citizens who travelled in sleeper class were given concessional benefit of 34 per cent of the total amount of concession allowed to senior citizens as a whole, whereas seven per cent of them travelling in AC-2 availed 20 per cent of the total amount of concession.
Similarly, in AC-3, 16 per cent of senior citizens passengers availed 32 per cent of the total amount of senior citizen concession.
"Thus, the senior citizen passengers travelling in AC class availed of the maximum concessional benefit as compared to the senior citizen passengers who travelled in non -AC classes," the report stated.
The ‘give it up’ scheme was started in 2017 to encourage senior citizens to give up their train fare concessions as part of the Railways' bid to increase revenues.
A review of the impact of concessions allowed to passengers revealed that 89.7% of the revenue forgone towards concessions was on account of concession to senior citizens and privilege pass/PTO holders.
The annual rate of growth in terms of number of passengers travelling in AC classes in all the categories of concessions was higher than that of the non-AC classes.
Several instances of misuse of passes and irregular grant of concessions on medical certificates were also noticed. Passenger reservation system lacks adequate validation controls to validate age of freedom fighters and to prevent irregular multiple booking on the same privilege pass.
The CAG said while the Railways earned ₹88,064 crore revenue from 190 crore reserved tickets between 2015 and 2018, it allowed concession of ₹7,418 crore (8.42%) to 21.75 crore (11.45%) reserved passengers during the same period.