Central government officials availing of the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) benefit to travel to Jammu and Kashmir, the North-East region and the Andaman islands no longer have to limit themselves to the national carrier.
While Air India is typically the only airline that government employees can use to claim LTC, even private airlines can now be considered for travel to the above destinations. However, according to the government, there's no proposal at present to extend the relaxation on a pan-India basis.
LTC is granted to central government employees - barring employees with spouses working with Indian Railway - to facilitate home travel as well as travel to different parts of the country. Presently two hometown visits are allowed in a block of four years with one hometown visit substitutable with an all-India visit. However, for the first two 4-year blocks, three hometown visits and one all-India visit are permissible.
"The facility to avail tickets in all airlines including private airlines is admissible at present in case of LTC in lieu of Home Town/All India LTC travel to North East Region (NER), Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Andaman & Nicobar (A&N), in relaxation to Central Civil Services (Leave Travel Concession) Rules, 1988 under certain conditions," said Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha last week.
The good news is that there could be more LTC benefits in the offing. As per the 7th Pay Commission recommendations, all personnel of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) - which includes CRPF and BSF - and the Indian Coast Guard should be granted one additional free railway warrant. At present, this benefit is extended only to armed forces personnel serving in field, high altitude or counter-insurgency operations (CI Ops) areas. Moreover, it suggested that the facility of Additional LTC should be extended to SSB personnel, at par with other CAPFs.
The pay panel added that the "proposal to split hometown LTC has merit and can be considered". Hence, it is recommended that splitting of hometown LTC be allowed in case of employees posted in the North East, Ladakh and the island territories of Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep. The idea is to enable these employees and their families to meet more often.
Unfortunately, demands from central government personnel to increase the frequency of LTC, especially the "all India" visit, and to extend LTC to foreign countries will remain a pipe dream for now. According to the panel, the extension of LTC to foreign countries is not in the ambit of the 7th CPC.
Edited by Sushmita Agarwal