Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wheeling out Wheelers?
[Wednesday, July 07, 2004 11:20:43 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
ALLAHABAD: With one fell swoop, Lalu Prasad has probably killed off a 126-year-old railways landmark — A H Wheeler & Co — a company that paid Rs 1.38 crore annual royalty to Indian Railways, amounting to 80% of the money earned from allowing bookstalls at stations.
For Lalu it was a colonial vestige that had survived on swadeshi platforms. "Angrez chala gaya, lekin Wheeler rah gaya," he said in his rail budget speech.
That the Allahabad-based company, which runs 258 bookstalls nationwide with 300 employees, is 100% Indian is not something it had publicized. Wheeler CMD Aloke Bannerjee was surprised. He said, "Our track record is very good. I have not seen the new bookstall policy, which has been framed. We have had long associations with the railways."
He hoped the new policy which jettisons the system of sole selling rights won't shut doors for business with the railways. "We hope that we would continue to work with them."
He said there was confusion regarding the name AH Wheeler. "It sounds like some foreign company, or MNC. But the fact is that Wheeler is a 100 per cent Indian company."
Amit Bannerjee, a director, said, Wheeler's contributed 80% of the bookstall income of the IR. In the year 2002, Wheeler paid royalty to the tune of Rs 1.38 crore, out of a total revenue of Rs 1.66 crore. Sources said Wheeler's contract could not be renewed after 2002 as the railways were busy formulating a new bookstall policy.
(This report was also carried in Economic Times)