At the fag end of his service, Mr.Vinay Mittal, Chairman Railway Board (CRB) appears to have put the cat among the pigeons. Mittal’s moves to bring about policy changes to restructure the Railway Board appointments and revise norms relating to the selection for the posts of Members of the Railway Board, General Managers, Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) etc have been debated at length all over the Railway system. The circumstances and timing of these initiatives is questionable in the wake of recent scams leading to Union Cabinet Minister for Railways Mr.Pawan Bansal quitting the post. Currently there are many vacancies at Board level, Zonal and Divisional levels on entire Indian Railways. There are two vacancies of Railway Board members, while two other members including the CRB himself and Financial Commissioner to retire within the next five working days. Also, the Railways have just been wrecked by the cash-for-promotion scam involving the now suspended Board member Mahesh Kumar.
Mittal’s proposal is that a selection board to be formed which should have representatives from the Private Sector Enterprises and other Government Departments who will decide on promotions of DRMs, GMs and PHODs through an interview process, while paralelly factoring the seniority cum suitability clauses and tenure-based norms laid down for the promotions in Indian Railways.
A draft note prepared on the subject also proposes the introduction of a quota system for senior posts – with each of the nine railway service cadres having a fixed quota in promotions. “What these proposals means is that the field will be left open for everybody for promotions as DRMs and GMs. This will encourage further scams. By introducing the quota system, the CRB evidently wants to give a parting gift to his cadre of Railway Traffic Service officers, since the IRTS officers will not get an opportunity to become GMs for the next 15 years in the normal and prevalent course of promotions,” an official said. The proposals have long term implications on the career prospects of Group-A officers and also impact the organizational well being. “Such decisions must be taken only with a Board in full strength”, the Federation of Railway Officers Associations (FROA) said in its representation of June 14.