Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has written to chairman of the pay commission, seeking higher payscale for the posts of Chairman of the Railway Board and General Managers (GM) of zonal railways.
In the letter, Prabhu has strongly endorsed an old demand from Railways to make the GM’s post equal to that of a state’s chief secretary in pay and to give the Railway Board Chairman the same payscale as that of the Chief of Army Staff, Cabinet Secretary and a few topmost officers in the Indian bureaucracy.
“Every ministry gives representations to the pay commission. I have forwarded the one related to GMs and Chairman of Railway Board,” Prabhu told The Indian Express.
The demand is not new. In fact, the Railway Board had sent the same demand about six months ago. What is new is the endorsement from the minister, and the bureaucracy is hoping it will strengthen their case.
Earlier, payscales of GMs of zonal railways were higher than top bureaucrats in states like chief secretary, DGP, and chief conservator of forests. But over the years, while other services raised their payscales, that of the GMs, who are ex-officio additional secretaries to the government, remained unchanged.
“A railway GM’s jurisdiction spreads across multiple states. There are regular coordination issues in which he has to speak to multiple chief secretaries and DGPs. So a parity is needed. It existed earlier,” said a Railway Board member who did not wish to be named.
The case for the Chairman of the Railway Board is believed to be stronger. During the first pay commission, the Commissioner of Railways enjoyed the highest payscale among bureaucrats. It was only after the third pay commission that this changed. Now, although the Railway Board Chairman is an ex-officio principal secretary to the government, his payscale is equal to that of any other departmental secretary and the other six members of the Railway Board who have the rank of ex-officio secretary to the Government of India. If the demand to raise the payscale is accepted, the top post will get a Rs 10,000 raise in pay band and the post will reflect the stature of being a top bureaucratic position.