It has come to light through newspaper reports that at a Railway General Managers Conference (there are 17 Railway Zones, each headed by a General Manager) on January 11, 12 in New Delhi, these “learned” gentlemen proposed to the Railway Ministry that in order to cut running costs of the Railways, the salaries including dearness allowance (DA) of the railway employees should be reduced by at least 5%! This would result in a saving of Rs.2,155 crores (salary of Rs.1300 crores and DA of Rs.855 crores)!
A correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar interviewed one of the veteran leaders of the Railway Workers, Comrade B.S Rath, President, All India Railway Employees Confederation (AIREC), Mumbai as well as advisor to the Western Railway Motormen’s Association, on this latest proposal of the General Managers of the Indian Railways. Here is an excerpt from the interview on the issue.
Comrade B.S Rath: It is not the workers who are to blame for any “losses” incurred by the railways. So, we will not accept the proposal that our salaries be cut. Already, the Engine drivers of the Indian Railways, led by AILRSA, are agitating against unjust pay scales and inadequate running allowances. This move might be another attempt to deny the engine drivers their legitimate salary revision.
We all know that Air India, the National Aircraft Carrier is making a loss because the profitable routes it was operating were given over to private airlines. Similar measures of privatization of profit making sections of Railways have already been implemented by the Railway authorities, who are now making noises about losses being made.
The increase in the number of Zones of the Railways from 9 to 17 has increased the cost of maintaining the Headquarters of these Zones. They have also increased the officers post and reduced the working posts in the lower category staff in the name of matching surrender of posts(to create an officers post, a workers post has to be given up!). This has led to increased workload burden on the lower category of staff. The increase in Zones has led to creation of more top positions such as General Managers (GM’s), Divisional Railway Managers (DRM’s), etc.,. Everybody knows the five-star lifestyle of these top officers, which has continued since the colonial era, when these top people were British officers. There has been no increase in revenue to the railways as a result of this division.
There is a criminal waste of funds in various projects. I will name just a few mostly from Western Railways:
- In the name of modernization , equipment is purchased at an exorbitant cost. For example energy meters have been fitted in the new A/C-D/C rakes being operated in the metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Calcutta. These are totally unnecessary since the computerized system installed in the new rakes already provided the required data. Imagine the total loss to the railways. Each energy meter costs Rs 2 lakhs. There are 6 energy meter per rake, at a cost of Rs 12 lakhs. There are 100 rakes per railway, and hence the cost for Mumbai, in the Central and Western Railways is Rs.12 crores each, aggregating to Rs.25 crores. All four metros taken together, it has been an unnecessary cost upwards of Rs 60 crores!
- The conversion of DC to AC rakes itself is another waste of funds as the life of these rakes is less and at the same time they are not able to pick up proper speed.
- Due to increased length of rakes, the Matunga Road Railway Station Platform was extended. Due to this the signal distance protecting a nearby level crossing got reduced. Hence Platform No1 signal was shifted to South side at great expense. But within 15 days of this the level crossing was closed down completely. Therefore it proved completely unnecessary to have shifted the signal. One Department of Railways does not know what the other department is doing. There is no coordination.
- A power sub station was constructed on the West Side of the tracks between Santa Cruz and Vile Parle. But this would have interfered with the Harbour line trains that were to run on that section. Hence this power station was subsequently dismantled and shifted to the East side of the tracks! Again, this reflected a lack of coordination between the different Departments!
- The Bandra Khar Flyover is another example of an unnecessary expenditure of funds. The Railways gave the reason that running the harbor line trains from VT on the East side will affect the goods traffic running on this track from BAMY(Bandra Marshalling Yard). However the BAMY traffic became zero on completion of the Vasai Diva line. On the contrary, running the trains on the east side would have given the benefit to the traffic management as Central Railway cannot provide more than 5 train per hour on this section and the balance time could have been utilized for running the main line trains up to Goregaon without hindrance to the Western Railways Suburban Services. And the money spent for the Bandra Khar flyover could have been utilized to build an elevated track at Malad to continue the two harbor lines up to Borivali.
- The Vasai Diva line was initially built as only a single track. A double line should have been laid. The cost of signaling would have been much less if a double track was laid, apart from the increased traffic that could have been anticipated. Now after a couple of decades, they want to make a double track at a huge expense of acquiring land and installing new signaling systems. There is no proper planning for the future.
- The Marine Lines booking Office on the flyover has been built with foundations for a seven storey building, when no such building can be built on the flyover!
The above are just a few examples of the corruption and mismanagement that is occurring in the Indian Railways. The workers of the Railways will oppose any move to cut their salaries in the name of reducing losses.