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Railway officers protest cadre merger

New Delhi: Civil Services officers from 13 railway zones and around 60 divisions have submitted written memorandums running into more than 250 pages against the merger of railway services, alleging the decision was “unilateral” and will negatively impact the safety of trains operations.

Big brown envelopes containing the representations against the merger of eight services into the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) have been delivered to the desks of the railway board chairman, the railway minister, DoPT secretary, cabinet secretary and even the prime minister on Wednesday and Thursday.

The railways in a press release announcing the merger had stated that the reform was undertaken with “overwhelming support and consensus of railway officers, at a two-day conference ‘Parivartan Sangoshthi’ held on December 7 and 8, 2019.”

However, the representations alleged that in the ‘Parivartan Sanghoshti’, 12 groups were formed, each headed by general managers (GMs) and the decision was taken “to suit the Engineering Service officers over their civil service counterparts”.

The memorandums stated that there are around 2,500 civil services officers who will be affected by the merger.

“All the general managers belonged to engineering services. The group members were taken from the respective zones of the GMs concerned. Only the GMs were allowed to speak. The dissenting views of the group members were not allowed by the respective GMs who happen to be controlling officers of the members. In reality, the personal views of the general managers were regarded as the views of the group,” alleged a representation from the Ambala Division of the Northern Railway and the sentiment echoed in all the memorandums.

“If disagreements and differences of opinion was not allowed to be expressed, how could the consultation process be considered as democratic, as desired by the railway minister,” it stated.

All the representations also highlighted how the move will compromise safety in train operations, stating that to avoid asset failures, expert specialization of that asset is essential.

A senior official of railways told PTI, “The Indian Railway Promotee Officers’ Federation has already given a strong support to the merger exercise. This federation consists of 3,700 officers out of 8,400 officers in the Group A service of the Indian Railway.”

“The Ministry at the highest level has already assured the officers who come through the Civil Services Exams that their interests will be protected,” he said.

According to sources, officers have also been asked to send in their suggestions through email and around 900 suggestions have been received so far and the memorandums of this nature will have no effect on the decision-making process. “The suggestions received on email will be considered as part of the larger consultation process before finalising the modalities. A group of secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary will take care of interests of everyone,” a source said.

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