The Railway Ministry has ordered that a four-decade-old technical body, the Central Organisation for Modernization of Workshops (COFMOW), which is responsible for procuring railways machinery, be shut down on December 1.
As recommended by Sanjeev Sanyal, member of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council, last year, this decision is consistent with the government’s policy to shed flab by closing down government organizations within the Railways that have outlived their usefulness.
COFMOW was established in 1979 to modernize various railway production units and other workshops transitioning from mechanical machines to more advanced computer-controlled machines. The company acquired the expertise in procuring complex machines for railways, bringing institutional knowledge of prices, technical soundness, and compatibility with modern technology to the process.
COFMOW officials told The Indian Express that other government bodies often sought its input and support for their procurement activities due to its specialisation.
It was primarily staffed by officers of the Indian Railway Mechanical Engineering stream based in the ITO area of Delhi.
Sources within the government have indicated that a separate organization is no longer required solely to perform procurement duties. The procurement that COFMOW performs can be carried out by officers within various zones of railways, production units and workshops.
A source said there is “no impact” on the procurement process and that COFMOW has officers from the Railways posted there due to regular transfers and postings. In the case of zonal railways, the same officers with senior grades are responsible for technical procurement. As a result, the procurement process will not suffer from a loss of expertise. The objective is to rationalize the use of resources.”
As a result of COFMOW’s establishment, all workshops are now modernized, according to an official. The existing COFMOW tenders will be awarded to the zonal railways; officers and staff will be posted to the various railways, and office space will be available for other suitable uses.
It is expected that the Central Organization for Railway Electrification will be closed by the end of 2023, when the vast majority of the broad gauge network will be electrified.
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