May 8, 2013 2:54:21 am
Days after the CBI arrested the nephew of Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in a suspected bribery case relating to a Railway Board appointment,the Federation of Railway Officers Association (FROA) has alleged that there is a lack of transparency in promotions and appointments at senior levels of the Railways and that key positions are kept vacant for long stretches to breed corruption.
The association Monday wrote to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth and the Prime Ministers Principal Secretary,Pulok Chatterjee,requesting them to initiate action and streamline the system.
Subsequently,The Indian Express examined railway records for two years from April 2010 and found that there was an average delay of 147 days in the appointment of 20 general managers,starting from the post falling vacant to it being filled up.
For instance,a GM post that fell vacant on March 31,2010,was filled up after over six months. Another GM-level position that fell vacant on January 31,2011,was filled up after 282 days. Again,a vacancy was created on March 9,2012,and the railways forwarded the proposal for the post 20 days later. But the posting was made three months later.
The delay in filling up vacancies results in a clamour for lucrative postings,which breeds corruption,the association alleged. Also,there is no transparency as information about appointments/vacancies is rarely uploaded online,it has said.
The FROA has demanded that officers from other than the railways be appointed as chief vigilance officers like in many other departments. The FROA,which represents around 8,000 Group-A officers of various services of railways,has also raised questions about the appointment of the Railway Board chairman and members.
All appointments of GM,board members and additional members,including the chairman,are approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet. They are among some 50 positions cleared by the ACC on the recommendation of the railway minister and the Railway Board.
Sources said that the railways follows a system of open and non-open line to make appointments to senior positions and it has been considered controversial.
They said that of the 25 posts of GM,17 belong to the open line category of officers,who are zonal heads with active field experience. The rest are non-open line officers who are on the administration side and include heads of rail coach factories,among others.
While only open line GM are eligible to be appointed as members or chairman of the Railway Board,no specific criteria is laid out for appointing officers to the open line category,thereby rendering the system ineffective and prone to misuse.
The railways spokesman was not available for comment. But a senior official said,If the FROA has any grievances it should approach the official forums of the ministry before going to the cabinet secretary. We have a proper grievance handling mechanism in the ministry and a constant dialogue between higher authorities and officials and workers.
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