Unions’ red-flag Government’s move on Railway Board restructure plan

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Railways unions on Wednesday red-flagged BJP government’s move to restructure the railway board, saying they are determined to oppose any move to ‘break’ the national transporter.

During their first interaction with the Bibek Debroy panel set up by the government to suggest ways for restructuring of railways, the union’s leaders admitted that there were problems, but blamed politicians at the helm of affairs for the mess.

Expressing concern over the government’s move to restructure the Railway Board and separating policy making from operations, a Railwaymen’s body today said the move would lead to “chaos”. “In the name of re-organisation, separating the policy making from operations, may lead to chaos,” National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NIFR) general Secretary M Raghavaiah said.

He said that ministers did not raise passenger fares for years and announced ‘unviable’ projects for decades together which pushed the state-run transporter into bankruptcy.

“If the (Bibek Debroy) panel comes out with radical recommendations aimed at breaking railways, we are determined to oppose it,” said Shiv Gopal Mishra of All-India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), one of the biggest employee unions.

The unions alleged that the problems faced by railways at present are created by political leadership and not by railway-men.

“There is no need to restructure railways. There are few deficiencies which could be rectified in the present system,” said Mishra.

Another union—National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) stated, “While railways is functioning well, the system is put to suffering on account of lopsided and motivated policy decisions of the ruling dispensation.” However, Mishra said that the members of the committee assured us that they are not mandated to break railways but to suggest ways to improve its functioning.

In its representation, AIRF questioned the terms of references of the Debroy panel. The AIRF said the policy making and operation of railways are already separated as operation is handled by the divisional and zonal railway, while policy is framed by the railway board.

Regarding the issue of exchange of officers between the railways and other departments, the union said, “Railways job is highly technical and sophisticated. Short term deputation from other departments is not likely to serve the due purpose.”

NFIR said, “As a responsible organization, the NFIR will be compelled to resist tinkering of Indian railways system in the name of re-organization and structural reforms as we fear that such step would harm not only railways but also the nation as a whole.”

Railway minister Sadananda Gowda had announced in his maiden rail budget formation of an expert committee to suggest restructuring of the railway board.