The Railway Ministry is considering to cut three lakh jobs. It has asked the zonal heads to review the performance of each employee in their respective zones. The Railway Board has written a letter to all the zonal heads in this regard on July 27 and asked them to prepare a list and submit it till August 9. The performance of railway employees will be reviewed on the basis of their physical fitness, mental fitness, attendance, and discipline.
The retrenchment is a bad news for Railways employees. The Railway Ministry is gearing up for a major retrenchment drive. The Union government has denied privatisation of railway services. Therefore, this is a surprising move. As per reports, nearly 3-lakh Indian Railways employees can be retrenched from all the zones. The Ministry’s decision would be applicable only on those employees whose age is more than 55 years and who would complete 30 years of their job in Indian Railways by the first quarter of 2020.
It is notable that Railways Minister Piyush Goyal told the Lok Sabha in a written reply recently that over 2.98 lakh positions were vacant in Railways as on June 1 this year and recruitment process is going on for over 2.94 lakh employees. More than 4.61 lakh people were recruited in Railways over the last decade. “The number of employees were 16,54,985 in 1991 and 12,48,101 in 2019. However, this has not affected the service of Railways,” Goyal said.
The Indian Railways has also issued a clarification. One official said that such a review is being practised in the Railways from time to time. Due to poor performance of any employee there is a provision to retire him/her prematurely. This is the reason that the board has asked the zones to prepare such a list. The Indian Railways, which is the largest employer in the country with close to 12.5 lakh employees, is planning for a massive job cut which could affect nearly 3 lakh employees.
With this massive job cut move, the Indian Railways, which is the largest employer in the country, is aiming to bring the total strength of its employees to around 10 lakh from the present number which is somewhere between 12-13 lakh.
It is worth mentioning that in Union Budget 2019, Railways got an allocation of Rs 65,837 crore and the highest ever outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1.60 lakh crore. Last year, the outlay for the railways was Rs 1.48 lakh crore while the Budget allocation was Rs 55,088 crore.
In the Budget, funds of Rs 7,255 crore have been allocated for construction of new lines, Rs 2,200 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for doubling, Rs 6,114.82 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,750 crore for signalling and telecom – the allocations have remained the same as in the interim budget in February.
Sitharaman said that railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crores between 2018 and 2030 and proposed that a public-private partnership (PPP) be used to unleash faster development and delivery of passenger freight services for railway projects to boost the connectivity.
“Railways will be encouraged to invest in suburban railways through special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and enhance metro rail network through PPPs,” she said.
Government envisions using rivers for cargo transportation, which will also decongest roads and railways, Sitharaman said. Railway stations modernisation will also be launched this year, she added.
Developing passenger amenities seem to be the focus of the government with the planned expenditure on that count being allocated Rs 3,422.57 crore which is an additional outlay of around Rs 1,000 crore for the comfort of rail users.
However, what will remain the Railways’ major headache would be its revenue expenditure which includes an estimated salary payout of Rs 86,554.31 crore, about Rs 14,000 crore more than last year.
The Budget estimates also allocated Rs 267.64 crore for Nirbhaya Fund including provision of Rs 250 crore for Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERM) (Video Surveillance System) and Rs 17.64 cr for Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd.
Estimates under Gross Traffic Receipts for the year 2019-20 have been placed at Rs 2,16,675 crore involving an increase of Rs 19,961 crore over the Revised Estimates 2018-19.