Acting upon complaints that rail drivers are being deployed for "non-running duties" including jobs as peons, computer operators and jeep drivers, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is understood to have asked the Railways to conduct a thorough probe in the matter.
Facing a shortage of approximately 20% of its sanctioned strength of 85,000 personnel, the crisis of the category of loco pilots has been further aggravated because of the inexplicable decisions to keep a large number of train drivers deployed on "non-productive jobs".
The Railways refused to confirm or deny the existence of the CVC communication. "I cannot say anything," a ministry official said.
First reported by HT last August, approximately 5000 trained loco pilots have remained deployed on "non-running duties" for long periods.
Euphemistically referred to as "0-foot plate drivers", some of these loco pilots have even received the "no accident award", despite never having set foot on a train engine!
Ministry officials said that medically de-categorized drivers are sometimes placed on stationary assignments as Traction Loco Controllers (TLCs) and Power Controllers (PCs), but that such individuals were not be eligible for promotion.
However, preliminary investigations reveal that a group of loco pilots have remained continuously on stationary duty. These "absentee drivers’ have also been granted promotions.
Railway rules (RBE no 9/98) do provide for the deployment of train drivers in stationary jobs on a three year deputation (extendable up to five years).
After the completion of the deputation period, these drivers are required to go back to the line for three years.
"What is happening amounts to diversion of public funds for non-productive use. We are shooting off complaints to the CAG and parliamentary public accounts committee", said Sanjay Pandhi, central working president of the Indian Railwaymen Loco Runningmen Organisation (IRLRO).