Railway Board to trim its staff by 25% for efficiency
The Indian Railways has decided to cut down the staff strength of its board from 200 to about 150 by transferring about five director-level officials and above to zonal railways in a long pending move to enhance efficiency, officials aware of the development said on Sunday.
The transfers would be completed within a month, said a senior official with the railway ministry, adding that the move will not affect top-level members of the board. “It was one of the top suggestions of railway minister Piyush Goyal and was to be done on priority. In a review meeting, it was noted to review a deployment of railway staff. It was felt there were too many officers within the railway board looking at the same thing. The officers will be sent to supervise and help in the functioning of the zones. A final decision is yet to be taken on how many officers will be transferred,” said an official familiar with the development on the condition of anonymity.
A committee headed by economist Bibek Debroy had in 2015 also recommended restructuring of the apex body. The railway ministry had in September 2014 constituted this eight-member committee for the mobilisation of resources for major railway projects and restructuring of the railways. “As pointed out by many previous committees over the years, the Indian Railways organisation has grown into an overly centralised and hierarchical organisation. The feeling of departmentalism adversely affects the working culture in the IR [Indian Railways] and has resulted in actions and decisions based on narrow departmental goals instead of on organisational objectives or benefits,” the committee had said in its report.
It suggested three major changes in the functioning of the national carrier — corporatising the board, forming an independent regulator for economic regulation and separation of roles of policy making, regulation and operations suggesting that the ministry of railways be only responsible for policy making.
The committee had also said that there were too many zones and divisions in the Indian Railways and a rationalisation of the same was required. It suggested that the railway zones be made autonomous to enhance their functioning. At present, the Indian Railways operates its mammoth network through 17 railway zones spread across the country. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had in February announced a new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh.
“Once the zones are made autonomous, the railway board will have little role to play in their day-to-day functioning and can become like a corporate board for Indian Railways,” the committee had said in its report.
“This has been a long pending move, even the previous railway minister Suresh Prabhu had advocated for cutting down and restructuring the railway board. It is good that the railways is focusing on operations and streamlining the organisation’s functioning,” said Abhaya Agarwal, Partner, Ernst & Young.