Railways to fill non-officer vacancies with ex-servicemen; says Railway Minister. No RRB for SECoR/Vizag!

Railway Board circular permits all zones to hire ex-servicemen in grades 1 to 7 for a period of 2 years. No separate RRB for South Coast Railway Zone as of now: says Rail Ministry

MUMBAI: In a bid to enhance safety of ageing bridges and tracks and ensure their timely upkeep, the Indian Railways is all set to fill non-officer vacancies in the ‘safety categories’ with ex-servicemen. These vacancies are for the posts of khalasis (helpers and gangmen) and junior engineers, in the lower pay grades of 1 to 7. The move follows a written directive from the Railway Board to all railway zones, permitting them to directly hire ex-servicemen with two-year contracts.

The recruitment in the Indian Railways is conventionally carried out through Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) and Railway Recruitment Cell (RRC). However, the process was found to be too slow, resulting in a huge number of vacancies, causing shortage of manpower and hampering maintenance work. Currently, the Railways have 1.5 lakh vacant posts across various safety categories.

While Central Railway has 980 vacancies in grades of 1 to 7 (people who manually work on the ground), 35 to 40 per cent of the 144 posts are vacant in the bridges department of WR. Though CR is talking to the RRC for filling its posts, WR has approached the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare to look for people with competencies required for “bridge organisation, track machine organisation and other similar technical safety categories”.

After the Gokhale bridge collapse in Andheri last year, WR had hastened to promote employees to fill some technician and supervisory posts, leaving a gaping need for khalasis and junior engineers. Now with this new option of hiring ex-servicemen, it has identified 450 posts to be filled. Soon after being recruited, ex-servicemen will be sent on a month-long training to understand the working and maintenance work of the tracks before being inducted.

A WR official, however, said the ex-servicemen welfare board has expressed some reservation against personnel being hired for the lower posts of khalasis. They have also opposed the short-term contractual agreement, as, according to the circular, the railways will end the contracts as and when vacancies get filled through RRB and RRC. Most officials from different railway zones, however, agree that ex-servicemen would bring a rich experience of working in hilly and difficult terrains, apart from being regimented and disciplined.

“These are crucial, safety-related job works for maintaining bridges and tracks. We are looking at all possible ways to fill up these vacancies as soon as possible. We have submitted our requirement to the welfare board and are now awaiting their response,” said CPRO/WR.

No separate RRB for South Coast Railway Zone as of now: Rail Ministry

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday ruled out a separate recruitment board or divisional headquarters for now for the newly created South Coast Railway Zone, stating that all issues regarding it will be addressed in due course.

Responding to a question in Rajya Sabha, Goyal said that there are 21 Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) across the country for catering to the recruitment requirements of various categories of Group ‘C’ posts of zonal railways.

“Visakhapatnam area is catered adequately by RRB/Secunderabad,” he said.

Goyal had announced the formation of the new railway zone, SCoR with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters in February this year comprising Vijaywada, Guntur and Guntakal rail divisions, besides a section of the Waltair rail division.

Goyal also said that it was not a convention that the place having zonal headquarter must also have a divisional headquarter.

Giving examples of zonal headquarters of Northeast Frontier Railway (Maligaon), South Eastern Railway (Kolkata), East Coastal Railway (Bhubaneswar), North Eastern Railway (Gorakhpur) and East Central Railway (Hajipur), he said that these do not have respective Divisional Headquarters.

“The decision of the Ministry of Railways, for setting up a new Zone with headquarter at Visakhapatnam, has been taken after due consideration taking all relevant factors into account. All administrative issues arising out of this reorganization will be dealt with in due course in order to ensure smooth functioning of the new zone,” he said.

The new zone is expected to be operational in a year’s time, officials said.

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