7th Pay Commission – Railways tighten Belt – The state-run transporter is the only ministry/ department that will bear the entire pay commission burden on its own and not be compensated by the finance ministry.
Air travel only for top officials, that too in economy class, strict curbs on foreign visits and a ban on creation of new posts are among a slew of austerity measures taken by the railways to meet the financial burden of around Rs 30,000 crore on account of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission’s recommendations.
Soon after the pay panel’s report was announced, railway financial commissioner S Mookerjee wrote to all general managers (GMs) suggesting measures to cut down expenditure.
The state-run transporter is the only ministry/department that will bear the entire pay commission burden on its own and not be compensated by the finance ministry.
Along with a drastic cut in the use of telephones and internet and curbs on foreign travel, the cost-cutting measures also include reducing spending on hospitality and entertainment and a ban on organizing meetings in luxury hotels. Also, procurement of computers and related consumables will now be on a strict need basis.
An official said the GMs have been asked to issue advertisements only for safety awareness and train operations. The measures also include a call for reviewing operation of trains with less than 50% occupancy and closure of services in uneconomic branch lines.
A senior railway official said there would be a ban on creation of new posts in non-safety/non-operation departments. He added that instructions have been given to slow down recruitment for posts which are not related to safety along with cutting spending on non-safety related projects.
“Considering that the number of tickets booking at computerized reservation counters has come down due to online facility, the plan is also to close these counters or convert them as unreserved ticketing system (UTS) counters,” said the official, adding that this would help bring down expenditure.
A proposal to run railways only through engineers and technocrats has also been mooted.
An ‘unsigned’ proposal, mooted for discussion in the railway board, suggested that recruitment in railways from the Civil Services Examination should be abolished and the transporter should be run only by engineers.
The move has forced the civil services cadres to form a separate association and write to the rail minister in protest, saying railways could not be termed a ‘project based organization’ like CPWD as it involves providing safe and efficient freight and passenger transportation.
An official said this proposal seemed to be mooted after a feeling that the management cadre would have an upper hand in the railways.
Source: Times of India