Published On: Fri, Sep 22nd, 2017

10,000 Group-D railway employees relieved of cleaning clothes and utensils in bosses’ homes

New Delhi: They are the ones essentially responsible for railway safety. But instead of inspecting train tracks, for years they were stuck at the bungalows of top bosses: cleaning clothes and utensils, picking up kids from schools and buying groceries.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani

Relieving lower-level staff from personal work was one of the reforms announced by the new Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani.

However, the first major reform by Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani has brought their careers back on track.

Highly placed sources said nearly ten thousand Group-D railway employees, including gangmen and track men, have been relieved from the houses of senior officers and put back into safety and maintenance work.

According to railway ministry officials, Lohani has issued clear instructions to do away with needless protocol and VIP culture.
The move comes at a time when Indian Railways is grappling with acute shortage of safety staff amid a spate of accidents over the past year.

A senior official told The Sen Times that these employees have been posted back on their primary job.

These workers carry out round-the-clock physical inspection of tracks. Sources in Railway Board said this practice was prevalent since many years and a number of lower-level employees were put to work at the houses of top officials.

Their responsibilities included household chores and all other personal works of the officers.

They said a number of these staffers at a residence of a top officer, like a member of the board, general manager and divisional railway manager (DRM), would be as high as six to ten.

‘The chairman of Railway Board had directed all officers to immediately relieve the gangmen and track men working as their personal staff.

The move aims to reorganise the workforce and also strengthen the railway safety mechanism.Railway reforms

With a large number of employees back to the tracks, the situation is likely to improve,’ said a railway ministry official.
Gangmen are crucial for railway track maintenance and running of trains. An average 200 railway men get killed in accidents every year during patrolling exercises.

They have a 12-hour shift and are burdened with 20-kg of tools. However, hundreds of them are attached to the serving railways officers to do their household chores and are at the mercy of the bosses and their family members.

It was reported last month that there is a shortage of nearly two lakh safety related staffers in Indian Railways.

The vacancies included nearly 10,000 gangmen and track men. Railways have reported 346 derailments in three years of the NDA government in which nearly 650 people have been killed.

Railway officials also said a number of guards on unmanned level crossings were taken off and deployed at officers’ bungalows.

This increased the vulnerability of locomotives these junctions.

According to railway estimates, 40 per cent of accidents and 60 per cent of fatalities are caused due to mishaps on unmanned level crossings.

Indian Railways currently has more than 6,000 such intersections across the country that are unguarded.

Indian Railways extends to more than 67,312-kilometre of tracks, having about 13,000 trains carrying about 23 million passengers a day.

Lohani took the job after his predecessor, A K Mittal, resigned following two train derailments in five days in Uttar Pradesh.

Relieving lower-level staff from personal work was one of the reforms announced by the new boss.

Immediately after taking over as the Railway Board chairman, he made it clear to the ministry officials that ‘VIP culture’ must be stopped to bring about a substantial change in the system.

He also ordered a strict prohibition on accepting gifts for all railway officers and they have also been told to give up unnecessary protocols.

He strictly ordered to end the tradition of bouquets, gifts and ‘buttering’. ‘There will be zero tolerance towards corruption.

Inputs with Mail Today

About the Author