Sunday, January 18, 2015

Despite demands of abolition, railways persist with colonial legacy - ‘dak khalasis’
Mahendra K Singh,TNN | Jan 17, 2015,

NEW DELHI: The railways are still dragging their feet over abolishing the post of telephone attendant cum 'Dak Khalasis' (TA/DK) or bungalow peon, a leftover of the British rule. Even after directives from top government functionaries, the transporter has retained the practice of allowing its officers to have Group 'D' workers as domestic staff.

Under the practice, an officer can appoint an individual of his or her choice as TADK who is absorbed as a permanent government employee in Group D category on completion of three years.

A temporary TADK gets about Rs 16,000 per month, while a permanent TADK gets about Rs 22,000 with benefits.

Cash-strapped railways are continuing with the practice despite recommendations of the Sixth Pay commission to abolish the post.

The transporter has constituted a committee of nine members of the Railway Board to review the policy, but the panel has got several extensions, seen as a ploy to delay the process.

Raman Sharma of Indian Railway Promotee Officers' Association said, "Sixth Pay Commission has recommended for scrapping of the post. Railways are spending around Rs 125 crore on TA/DK every year. We have written to the committee to abolish the post. But the committee is seeking extension again and again."

"There is no uniform rules and regulation to be followed in appointing and regularizing TADK," he said.

There are more than 3000 officers at various grades, who are entitled to avail the facility to retain such domestic staff, including officials in railways board.

Several complaints of exploitation of TADKs at the houses of some top officers have been reported earlier.

As the officers enjoy the discretionary power to grant permanent government job, allegations such as withholding salaries, cutting of holidays, 18-hour workdays, use of abusive language, sacking before completion of three years and even manhandling have been reported by TADKs.

A senior officer said, "The discretionary appointment power to officers has led to several cases of exploitation."

However, officials say TADK is a necessity as they work 24x7 and many times need to work during odd hours.

An official said, "The argument is not against providing domestic help, but against the discretionary power to grant any one a permanent government job. This is against merit."


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