In a setback to the railways ministry, the pay panel has refused to recommend upgradation of zonal railway general managers to the level of chief secretaries of states — a major demand of the top-level rail bureaucracy which was endorsed by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu. The panel has said the matter may be discussed between the two ministries — railways and finance.
Pushing the demand, the railways had said that a general manager manages territories extending to multiple states, commanding a workforce of nearly 80,000 to one lakh personnel. Prabhu had even sent a letter to the panel in this regard.
Meanwhile, the panel has recommended changes in the structure of the Railway Board, which includes incorporating at least two new board member posts — member, materials management, and member, signalling and telecom. It has also endorsed a demand that the present post of member, staff, be the sole domain of the Indian Railway Personnel Service officers.
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“There appears to be a piquant situation in which a demand that was raised nearly two decades back was found to be reasonable, certain recommendations made by the fifth central pay commission, which were apparently accepted by the government but not taken to finality, and now 20 years down the line, the same demand has been placed before this commission, with greater urgency… The commission recommends that the Ministry of Railways may take up the matter of revival of these proposals if they so wish,” the panel has said.
As per Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s calculations, the burden on the Rail Budget on account of the pay panel’s recommendations is about Rs 28,000 crore. “We are yet to evaluate the whole report but so far all recommendations seem to be on expected lines,” said R N Singh of Federation of Railway Officers’ Organisation.
The panel has also sought a cadre-restructuring exercise. It has said that the cadre-restructuring proposal should be examined at the department level, with one member each from the DoPT and Department of Expenditure attending such meetings chaired by the concerned Secretary of the cadre.