Raising questions the government has halted a Railways’ proposal to create a huge number of top-level posts for its officers.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked the Railway Board to provide details on whether posts created in the last five years for specific projects were transferred to non-project functions later, and whether such moves were vetted by the finance ministry and the DoPT itself.
The DoPT letter, which comes in response to a recent Railways’ proposal to create more high-level posts in a cadre-review exercise, has put Rail Bhawan in a fix.
The DoPT has also asked if Railways’ services have been using these posts to promote its officers and carry out more recruitments.
Various senior level posts, including positions equivalent to joint secretary and additional secretary, are created for various projects. Known as “work charged posts”, these posts are created on the rationale that in order to execute a project, the Railways would require a certain number of senior officials tied to that project.
The number of such posts is based on the cost of the project. Typically, higher the project cost, more the number of officers required. It is part of the establishment cost of the project, usually calculated as 7.8 per cent of the project cost.
The DoPT has now asked the Railways if the cost of land was also taken into account while creating “work charged posts” in the last 10 years.
“This is required because creation of posts simply on the basis of land price cannot be justified at all,” it said.
The DoPT has also asked the Railways how many “work charged posts” have been phased out after completion of the projects.
According to Railways’ data available with the DoPT, the civil engineering department creates one senior administrative grade or joint secretary-equivalent post for every Rs 96 crore of establishment cost of a project.
Various other cadres associated with project execution — electrical, accounts, signalling, stores — have different yardsticks for post-creation based on similar calculations.
Usually, most of these posts are not phased out, but are transferred elsewhere.
The DoPT has also sought details on the number of posts created for projects where the work was outsourced or tenders were invited. The logic is that a project, where the job of the Railways was limited to awarding tenders, cannot justify the creation of a large number of posts.
The Railways has also been asked whether a similar yardstick was followed in projects executed through joint ventures and public-private partnership.
The Railways had earlier proposed that 75 per cent of the total “work charged posts” of various services should be included to its total cadre strength, and 2.5 per cent of these posts should be converted to top-level posts.