Kharge pulls up top brass for poor performance during current fiscal ahead of Railway Budget

New Delhi: Ahead of his maiden Railway Budget, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge pulled up the top brass of his Ministry for their poor performance during the current fiscal year.

Irrespective of the fact that he would be presenting only a vote-on-account, Mr. Kharge gave the officials a piece of his mind at the two-day review meeting this week. It was attended by all members of the Railway Board and General Managers heading zonal offices or production units.

He reeled off figures to drive home the point that physical achievement was not even 25 per cent of the target — be it with respect to laying of new lines, gauge conversion or doubling of lines. He wondered what could be achieved in the remaining two months.

Mr. Kharge did not hide his apprehension of what was in store for him when he would be taking up the Railway Budget in Parliament.

This will be his first Railway Budget and the last one of the UPA-II government.

He was equally concerned about issues relating to safety, food and cleanliness. The general managers address these issues through personal interventions and inspections.

Mr. Kharge was particularly perturbed by the incidents of fire that had claimed 35 lives in two tragedies. He called for proper maintenance of fixed and rolling assets and prevent recurrence of such accidents. He directed that divisional managers appoint a nodal officer to monitor cleanliness.

Employees’ demands

The Railway Minister promised union leaders that their concerns would be taken up with the government.

All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) president Shiva Gopal Mishra demanded that the new pension scheme be withdrawn and a new one with assured benefits be introduced.

In response to their other demands, Minister of State for Railways Adhir Rajan Chaudhary said FDI would be allowed only after taking all stakeholders into confidence.

The AIRF has decided to hold its general council meeting in Kota on February 17 to decide its future course of action having obtained a strike ballot from its members in support of its demands.

Threatens stir

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen has decided to give a call for an indefinite strike if the government failed to accept its 65-point charter of demands.

NFIR general secretary M. Raghavaiah said 97.36 per cent of its members favoured an indefinite strike to press their demands, which included merger of DA with pay and grant of interim relief pending constitution of the next pay commission and guaranteed pay instead of the present scheme.