Updated: May 19, 2022 12:04:43 pm
Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, Dr V Sivadasan, has written to Union Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw asking him to reinstate around 72,000 positions that the Railways, country’s biggest employer, has abolished over the last six years. What are the jobs that have been slashed, and why is the Railways cutting flab?
The Indian Railways is the country’s biggest job provider employing an estimated 1.4 million people. It also attracts applicants in droves with almost all recruitment drives seeing a massive rush. In 2019, around 2.4 crore candidates applied for over 1 lakh advertised vacancies. In January this year, hundreds of job aspirants from UP, Bihar protested for days over alleged irregularities in Railway Recruitment Board’s non-technical popular categories exam of 2021. More recently, on May 11, the Southern Railways decided to add extra coaches to 46 trains to ease rush for a recruitment exam.
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The Railways hires candidates for Gazetted (Group A and B) and Non-Gazetted (Group C and D) posts. Vacancies are also filled through sports, cultural and other quotas. Group C posts are essentially technical and non-technical cadre positions that include clerks, station masters, ticket collectors etc., while Group D posts include operations carried out by peons, helpers, safaiwals.
These positions belong to Group C and D categories. According to reports, these posts have become obsolete due to adoption of new technology and it has been decided not to fill them up in the future. However, those already employed for these operations are likely to be observed in different Railway departments.
Between 2015-16 to 2020-21, around 56,888 posts were surrendered by 16 railway zones, with 15,495 slated to be abolished soon. The Northern Railways surrendered more than 9,000 posts, followed by 7,524 by the Southern Railways, 5,700 by the Eastern Railways and 4,677 by the South Eastern Railways.
At 70% of its estimated revenue expenditure (Demand for Grants 2021-22 Analysis, PRS), staff wages and pensions have been a major drain on the Railways’ finances. In 2015, the Committee on Restructuring Railways had termed the entity’s expenditure on staff as extremely high and unmanageable. It has been consistently argued that Railways ability to generate resources towards operations is hamstrung by its employee costs. While passenger movement is not a money spinner for the Railways, it has been trying to push its freight earnings that registered a jump of over 24% in the last fiscal. CAG in its December, 2021 report on Railways finances advised it to augment its internal resources to reduce dependency on gross budgetary support and extra budgetary resources.
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