Accustomed to playing by their own rules in regard to transfers and postings, rail officials are being shaken out from their comfort zone by the NDA government.
In a radical policy reform initiative aimed at addressing incongruities in administering the public sector monolith, railways minister Suresh Prabhu unveiled the first-ever “comprehensive transfer policy for railway officers” that defines guidelines and tenures of posting and transfer of Grade A and B categories of officers.
Aimed at tackling the problem of favoured officers “overstaying” in particular locations and whimsical transfers, the government has proposed a minimum of two and a maximum of five-year tenure. “The existing system has promoted a culture of patronage and builds vested interests at the expense of professional organisational needs,” said an aide of Prabhu.
The “business” of transfer and postings has also generated controversies, including the 2014 cash-for-post scandal that led to the resignation of then railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and then Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar.
The new policy — issued on August 31 — brings in a clause of a cooling-off period of a minimum of three years for postings at the Railway Board in New Delhi and reduces the maximum tenure for “sensitive posts” from five to four years. The policy also provides that the total stay at a stretch at a particular station won’t be more than 10 years and the total cumulative stay (in broken spells) will not be more than 15 years.