IMRB International (Indian Market Research Bureau) has allegedly submitted incorrect information to the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) in a study on the passenger count and boarding and alighting patterns for local trains. It is also alleged that the IMRB never took the pains to actually do a survey and that it always submitted fake figures, collecting huge amounts from the authorities concerned.

MRVC conducts survey
At present, around 80 lakh people travel every day in Mumbai local trains, called the lifeline of the city. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) conducted a survey to help the railways improve its services according to passenger demand. The main objective of the survey was to study the passenger count per coach and passenger loading patterns per train. The MRVC had given the contract to IMRB International to do this job. The IMRB started counting on April 27, 2016, on all three railway lines – the Harbour, Central and Western – and submitted its report on May 17, 2016.

Santosh Kamble
Santosh Kamble

The IMRB scam
Only God knows what reports, statics or figures the IMRB submitted, but ABI (Akela Bureau of Investigation) can claim with confidence that these are incorrect. Instead of surveying in railway coaches or on platforms, IMRB staff completed the job sitting in the office. All statics were fake and forms were filled in office.
“I have witnessed that IMRB submitted incorrect and fake reports to MRVC. It is very tough to count passengers while alighting or boarding local train even in peak hours,” said a surveyor.

As per counting (survey) process, the IMRB had plans to conduct a survey in the morning and evening peak hours and on working days only. In every train four compartments were chosen, which were the first and second ladies and the first- and second-class general compartments. The IMRB had to appoint 18 persons (surveyors) and two supervisors in a train. Two persons would have to sit in coach and count passengers where they had boarded the train and where they are getting down. Two persons would have to stand on the platform and count how many passengers were getting down. It was also mandatory to ask questions to passengers to know where they boarded the train.

Ashutosh Chaudhary
Ashutosh Chaudhary

Sources said later IMRB brought the number of workers down to half, appointing nine surveyors and one supervisor. Towards the end, the figure reached seven persons. The main point is that office staff filled the forms sitting in office and submitted it to the MRVC. “Agar koi person (surveyor) IMRB manager or immediate boss ka close hota hai toh woh kabhi bhi field me jata hi nahin, office me hi baithkar report bana deta hai,” said a surveyor.

Santosh Kamble, team manager IMRB International said “allegation is totally false.” IMRB International head Ashutosh Chaudhary, railway authorities V K Pandit and A K Singh were not available for comment.

What is IMRB?
IMRB’s official website claims that it is a multi-country market research, survey and business consultancy firm that offers a range of syndicated data and customized research services. Headquartered in Dadar (West), Mumbai, with operations in over 15 countries and over 1,200 employees. IMRB is a part of the Kantar Group, WPP’s research, insights and consultancy network. Its top clients include BAT Group, Bharti Group, Cadbury, Ford Group, Frito Lay, Glaxo Smithkline, Heinz, Indian Airlines, ITC Group, Millward Brown, Nestle, Pepsi Group, Reckitt Benckiser, Research International, TVS Motors, Unilever Group, VST and so on.

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