Around 10,000 railways jobs will be available to the wards of employees each year virtually as inheritance, without having to go through any selection procedure, under a bizarre recruitment policy.
The country's second largest employer started the scheme in 2004 to encourage voluntary retirements, initially allowing some relaxations in eligibility for the retiring employee's nominee, such as doing away with physical efficiency tests and easing educational norms.
The relaxations began to expand with a series of subsequent orders and with the latest order on July 23, 2013, such nominees won't even have to sit for the written exam. The employee just needs to name his ward and the job is his.
The allegation is that of the 30,000 railway vacancies created in the last three years, 10,000 were filled by employees' wards under the Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Staff (LARSGESS).
Safety category employees with a grade pay of Rs. 1,800 and Rs. 1,900 - grade pay being a component of their total income, which ranges from Rs. 17,000 to Rs. 22,000 a month - are eligible. This category has a cadre strength of approximately 3,00,000 and a bulk of them are covered under the scheme.
In its order on January 2, 2004, the railways had permitted two categories of employees - drivers and gangmen - to opt for the "assured employment" scheme, provided they were in the 55-57 age group and had completed 33 years of service.
Another order on September 11, 2010, reduced the qualifying age to 50-57 years and period of service to 20 years while also extending the scheme to all safety category employees.
Railway unions are now demanding that LARSGESS be extended to all C and D category recruitments.
"Wards of railway employees are naturally skilled at such jobs. Former railway ministers have been making thousands of direct recruitments. Family members of people killed in rail accidents are offered jobs on compassionate grounds. Where is the harm if the wards of a few employees are recruited?" asked Shiva Gopal Mishra of the All India Railway Men Federation.
HT emailed and faxed a questionnaire to railway board chairman Arunendra Kumar on August 12 seeking clarifications. No response was received.
"Approximately 90% of wards applying under LARSGESS have been recruited," sources said. On the contrary, the pass percentage of candidates who appear for open exams conducted by the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) and Railway Recruitment Cell (RRC) is just about 20%.
The scheme is not governed by RRB or RRC guidelines. Jobs are handed out on the basis of medical tests and verification of educational certificates by a committee of three junior administrative grade officers at divisional levels.
"LARSGESS being an open-ended scheme, the danger is that all safety category jobs will be filled up by second-generation beneficiaries. The scheme blocks open competition and breeds an unhealthy culture," some sections feel.
"Passenger safety can get compromised," one official conceded.
o 10,000 jobs annually available to employees' wards under new railway policy
o Recruitment procedures, including written tests, dispensed with for "second generation beneficiaries"
o Policy blocks open competition in safety category jobs
o Emboldens unions to demand all recruitments be done on "compassionate grounds"
o One-third of 30,000 vacancies estimated to have been filled up by "wards of employees" in past three years