Saturday, September 20, 2014

New railways policy raises brows as board chairman retains “absolute” powers in appointment

NEW DELHI: It seems no lessons have been learnt from the 'cash for post' scandal. The railways have come out with a new policy on posting of key officials like divisional railway managers (DRMs), giving "absolute" power to the railway board chairman in the appointment process.

With 20-25 DRMs due for replacement and departmental lobbies at work, the latest policy has been questioned even by senior railway officials who argue that it leaves scope for manipulation and victimization in the appointment process.

As of now, officers belonging to eight railway services, which are involved directly in train operations, are given preference for selection as DRM on the basis of a fixed quota. Out of 68 posts of DRMs, 16 each go to traffic, mechanical and engineering services while nine go to electrical and four to signals and telecom.

The quota was strongly challenged by electrical and signals departments whose strength and role has increased substantially in operations over the years. They have been asking for more DRM posts for their services.

The new policy says only eight services, directly involved in operations, would be given preference and not more than 18 posts of DRMs would be given to one service.

It goes on to state, "The decision of the railway board chairman in readjustment of slots among different services will be final."

"This policy hides the current quota system fixed way back. It also vests much discretion in one individual," said an official, adding that the new policy is open for manipulation.

The policy is also silent on many other issues. It says that posting as DRM does not confer any benefits. But holding DRM post is a pre-requisite for an official to be promoted as GM.

The delay in filling posts has raised serious questions. In the past, appointment of DRMs and GMs was delayed, ostensibly to scuttle a particular candidate's chances of becoming GM, a board member or railway board chairman.

After the 'cash-for-post' scam that rocked the state-run transporter last year, officials had demanded that the entire appointment process be recast to do away with discretionary powers and ensure there was no manipulation or victimization of those vying for top posts.
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