नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Bibek Debroy Committee and its sweeping mandate to restructure the Indian Railways would win hands down if there was a poll for the most-discussed topic in the corridors of the ailing transport giant. Just about everybody working in the railways has an opinion about how the restructuring can be done and almost all of them feel their idea is the stand-out one.
Hidden among the ideas of these officials, of course, is also the infamous rivalries among various streams of engineering and traffic operations that is so quintessential to Indian Railways babudom.
So the electrical cadre officials want the mechanical cadre to pull up its socks and want the corporatisation of the workshops and manufacturing centres of the railways – most of these facilities controlled by the mechanical cadre. Not to be outdone, the mechanical cadre wants the electrical cadre to work faster with the electrification of the railways.
The traffic cadre – IRTS officials – want all the engineering streams in the railways to start delivering. “The restructuring should be in such a way that the engineering cadre and its facilities become manufacturing hubs for the railways and bring in money. At the moment the traffic cadre remains the most stressed thanks to the overflow of passengers and the need for more trains,” said a senior IRTS official.
The Railway Protection Force officers on their part want the restructuring committee to chalk out plans for the former to be the sole federal railway police in the country, in turn taking over duties from the railway police which are entities of respective states. Another suggestion is to give a lot of non-policing duties like patrolling stations, railway factories and the like to private security companies.
“It all depends on how far the committee goes. There is even talk of the disbandment of the Railway Board and a more corporate set-up against the current silo system of different Member posts for different streams of the railways,” said an official.
The Bibek Debroy Committee and its mandate
The 7-member committee, with a term of one-year, will be chaired by renowned economist Dr Bibek Debroy and will have among its members former cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekar, ex-chairman and MD of of Procter and Gamble Gurcharan Das, professor Partha Mukhopadhyay, senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research, Ravi Narain, former MD of the National Stock Exchange, Rajendra Kashyap, former financial commissioner of the railways and one as-yet-unnamed nominee of the department of economic affairs. Sanjay Chadha, currently serving as the executive director mechanical engineering of the railway board will be the secretary to the committee.
The onus of the committee would be ‘reorganising and restructuring the railway board and subsequently the department so that policy making and operations are separated, the department does not work in silos, policy making focuses on long-term and medium-term planning issues and operations focuses on day-to-day functioning of the organization’.