The "over-staffed" railway ministry is set to cut its flab in a major restructuring drive aimed at strengthening field operations and railway safety. Nearly 125 railway ministry officials, including some heads of departments (HoDs), will be shifted out from the Rail Bhavan to different zones and divisions for field duties. Well placed sources said over 500 officials are currently posted in the railway board headquarters out of which several officials are posted for many years.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said 90 officials from different zones and departments have been accommodated in the railway ministry over the years. "We have decided to cut the existing size of officials in railway board. The idea is to put them to field work to ensure better services and enhanced railway safety. The strength in railway ministry will be reduced and their role will be confined to monitoring and major policymaking," Goyal said.
A senior railway ministry official said a number of departments like traffic, rolling stock, electrical and signaling and communication are overstaffed and have been functioning from the Rail Bhavan for the last several years. However, the presence of these officials in field could yield better results, he said. Similarly, departments like health, railway protection force (RPF) could also be restructured. Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani told MAIL TODAY that the ministry was studying the current structure of railway board and a decision would be taken soon.
"This will be a restructuring of the railway board where officials will be given crucial field duties. There will be no downsizing of the existing manpower of the railways," Lohani said. Officials hinted that the budget directorate of the railway board could be dismantled since the ministry is no longer tasked with preparing the rail budget after the Narendra Modi government merged the same with the General Budget this year.
Sources said the budget directorate was one of the bulkiest departments headed by an executive which has been rendered useless after the budget merger. The development assumes significance in wake of the recommendations of a high power committee formed by railway ministry on passenger safety. The committee formed after the stampede at Eliphinston Road station in Mumbai has suggested strengthening field operations.
"In order to improve supervision, Ministry of Railways has decided to increase number of posts of Additional Divisional Railway Managers (ADRMs) in all the railway division offices. In most of the divisions, two ADRMs will be posted. In important divisions like Delhi, the number of ADRMs will be increased to 3 from existing 2. However, in Mumbai there will be four ADRMs in each in Western and Central railways," Goyal said.
He said one ADRM in each of the two Mumbai Divisions will be exclusively for handling suburban services. The railway minister said substantial financial and administrative powers covering a wide spectrum of works have been delegated by the Indian Railways to General Managers, Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) and field officials. This will reduce the dependence of zonal railways on the railway board for many works related to procurement, repair and maintenance and also some emergency works related to rail safety.