The Railway Ministry has decided to shut down the Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel with effect from 7 September 2021. The IROAF is a separate enterprise working towards green fuels for transport and recently the organization had invited bids for hydrogen fuel cell based technology for trains, according to an IE report. A Railway Ministry spokesman was quoted in the report saying that the ongoing projects or contracts of Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel will not be affected in any way. There would be only administrative change, thus, projects will be executed as usual, the spokesman further said. The work of IROAF will be transferred to the Railway Board and Northern Railways, as per the order.
According to the report, traditionally populated and driven by Indian Railways’ mechanical engineers to work on alternatives to diesel, IROAF had experimented with bio-diesel, CNG-fuelled engines, etc., in the past. The IROAF of Indian Railways had been working on solar-powered trains as well in tandem with the plans of the NDA government to reduce carbon emission through adoption of renewable sources of energy by the year 2022. Except for minor projects as well as showcase installations, the national transporter has not aligned itself with the targets of the year 2022.
The report said with the abrupt shutting down of the organisation, which is based out of Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi, certain sections of the Indian Railways bureaucracy have been rankled with concerns being raised on the uncertainty of the future of other organizations such as the Central Organisation for Modernisation of Workshops, set up for specialised procurement in the year 1979. The order further mentioned that the Railway Board will be handed over the solar power rolling stock or the Alternate Fuel Electrical Directorate of Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel. The Northern Railway zone will handle its existing tenders, the order said.