Indian Railway is the largest railway system in the world functioning under single management (Railway Board) with a strong working force of about 1.4 million railway men associated with various Divisions, work-shops and Production units across the country. The project is owned by Western Railway head-office located at Churchgate, Mumbai.
ARPAN (Advanced Railway Pension Access Network) is an E-Governance initiative of Ministry of Railways to enhance efficiency and transparency in pension payments, which greatly benefits 13.5 lakh pensioners and railway administration which incurs an expenditure of approx. Rs.30,000 Cr on pension per annum.
The centralised system provides for complete automation of the pension sanction process in all 145 offices of Indian Railways with provision of E-PPO, first such initiative in India wherein the data required by the banks for disbursement of pension is transmitted digitally, with digital signatures and encryption, directly to the server of the bank. With this, Banks can save on the effort required to enter data for approx. 50,000 pensioners every year. This greatly cuts down on the existing time taken for initiation of pension from average 2 to 3 months to the second following month from the date of retirement.
A centralised database and application bring in uniformity, greater monitoring and control over expenditure through E-Debit Scroll, which is directly uploaded by the banks on the system for reconciliation of the expenditure on pension by them, on behalf of Ministry of Railways. Banks save on the effort of printing the debit scroll for 13.5 lakh pensioners every month and dispatching them to 16 zonal offices. This feature will save large number of trees annually.
ARPAN provides detailed information to each pensioner regarding his pension and payments being made to him by the bank. It is also a central depository of all railway pension related information with facility for download of all relevant forms and documents. For a first time railway pensioners have been provided with an elaborate system for online grievance and request lodging, with facility for its monitoring both by administration and the pensioner.
Thousands of employees are retiring every month on account of superannuation, voluntary, invalid and compulsory retirement. Railway is losing a good number of employees every year on account on premature death. As a measure of social security, Railway is providing retirement benefits including pension for life as well as family pension in the event of death not only to the spouse but also to un-married/widowed/divorced daughters, disabled children, disabled siblings, minor children and even dependent parents according to their turns as per the government rules and regulations. Indian railway is one of the few organizations where timely payment of settlement dues and issue of Pension Payment Orders is ensured by the respective pension establishments with due co-ordination between Personnel and Accounts Departments. The number of pensioners have already exceeded the number of existing working strength. Despite introduction of NPS for the new entrants from 01-01-2004, the railway has to shoulder the pension liability of about 1.2 million employees who are on railway’s payroll till 2003. A major chunk of revenue is being allotted every year towards pension liability and the burden is increasing day by day.
Pension to the retired Railway Servants is presently paid through Public Sector Banks on issue of an authority (Pension Payment Order) by Railway administration. Processing of the PPO is done in a decentralized manner across all field units of Indian Railways. The Banks in turn seek reimbursement of the amounts disbursed by them on a monthly basis through RBI.
Railway administration intends to consolidate the system of issuance of PPO & strengthen the system of reconciliation between the debits raised by Pension disbursing Banks and the due pension amount as per Railway records. It is aimed to achieve this target through a Centralized system by harnessing the latest technologies in the internet domain.
The application is to be used by:
» Internal Users: - All Divisions, Workshops, Zonal Headquarters, Production Units & Railway Board.
» External Users: - Banks, Retired Railway employees, Pensioner’s associations as well as general public interested in getting information regarding pension in Indian Railways.