Thursday, January 1, 2015

‘Railway zones to be cut down to 9 from 17’


Suresh Prabhu
Suresh Prabhu
Almost a decade after former railways minister Nitish Kumar nearly doubled the railway zones, the government is likely to cut them back to the original strength, with the incumbent minister Suresh Prabhu seemingly keen to cut down the oversized bureaucracy. The move is afoot to cut down the number of railway zones from the current 17 to nine, which will also affect the strength of the divisions proportionately.
Armed with various reports on plugging the financial leakage along with views on how to maximise the efficiency of the workforce, Mr Prabhu has apparently formed the view that the near doubling of the railway zones and Divisions have proved counterproductive both on the performance and finance yardsticks. “The decision to raise the number of zones from nine to 17 by Mr Nitish Kumar was largely a political move to appeal to various constituencies. In over a decade, these additional zones have added staff strength, which are largely idle and do not contribute to productivity and efficiency of the railway. The new government wants people in the field to execute projects and not spend time in offices doing the paper works,” said a senior official in the railway board.
Furthermore, the additional zones and divisions are being seen in the new dispensation at the Centre as having overlapping domain, leading to movements of files back and forth, and thus not adding any worthwhile values to the railways, the official said.
While the move is cut down the strength of zones and divisions, similar action is likely with the existing railway board, which is being seen by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an oversized elephant, which can not keep pace with the changing demand of the country, sources said.

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