Railway Minister, Sadananda Gowda may have asked the senior railway bureaucracy to work as a team in a “perform or perish” speech 10 days ago, but the national transporter is engaged in an internal battle with its own officers over the right to retain official accommodation. It has sent as many as 38 Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) across India to look for alternative houses for their families.
The ministry in an order earlier this year had given all its DRMs three months to vacate the official houses kept in the places of their earlier postings, withdrawing an existing policy of 2010. No reason was cited. Beyond the notice period, they were to be charged a steep “penal rent” for the mainly Type-V bungalows. The notice period ended last month.
According to documents accessed by The Sunday Express, a number of DRMs have sent letters to the Railway Board in protest through their respective Zonal Railway managers and one DRM has even gone to the Central Administrative Tribunal and earned a temporary stay, while a few others will be joining him on Monday. A group is now planning to meet Gowda for redressal.
Railway Board under Mamata Banerjee in 2010 had decided that DRMs in Railways would be allowed to retain official houses in places of previous postings on the ground that the age at which officers attain the level to be DRMs — usually early 50s — is when their wards are at advanced stages of schooling and their parents are too old and frail to shift. So, by paying a normal rent, these officers were allowed to retain their earlier houses for two years, which is the tenure of a DRM.
“It was a time-bound facility allowed in the service condition of DRMs. If this facility was not there, many would have refused the postings to faraway places because of family-related compulsions,” said a senior railway official. “Why not let the new policy be applied in prospective effect like all policies instead of retrospective effect?”
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While no one is discussing the merits of the recent order of withdrawal or the earlier order of extension of this unique facility, the demand is to not apply the new policy to those who had already been posted under the old policy and are about to end their terms.