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Published On: Mon, May 25th, 2015

Bibek Debroy Committee Report – Views and Wake Up call given by AIRF

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No.AIRF/Sub-Committee 186 Dated: May 24, 2015
The Chairman,
High Level Railway Restructuring Committee,
New Delhi
Dear Sir,
Sub: Our views
In continuation to our earlier viewpoints, contained in our earlier references dated 28.10.2014, 23.12.2014, 29.04.2015, we send herewith our views, enclosing a copy of the Resolution adopted in the meeting of the Standing Committee of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation(AIRF), held at New Delhi on 22nd and 23rd May, 2015.

GS-Sign

High Level Railway Restructuring Committee
Indian Railways, since its inception in the year 1853, has been serving the population of the country, moving goods and services from one end of the country to other braving all odds. The Railways is eco-friendly, energy efficient, reliable, high frequency and large capacity. This is the cheapest and safest mode of transport. Indian Railways has integrated diversified culture, language, community, caste and creed of this vast country. It has provided bread and butter to lakhs and lakhs of people. Besides, a large section of the people is dependent on Indian Railways to have two square meals for themselves and their family members.
The Railways was originally constructed by the private players, land being provided free of cost, paid fixed subsidy to the private companies by the government. But those private companies had failed to run his system and the system started disintegrating, services deteriorated drastically, lines after lines were closed denying connectivity to large population of the country, resulting the government gradually took over the lines and put them on rail.
Upon the recommendations of the Acworth Committee, Railway Budget was separated from the General Budget of the Government of India in the year 1924 with a view to provide undivided attention for the development of the Railways.
Considering all aspects for maintaining the homogeneity and integrity of the country, the framers of the Constitution of the country had kept the Railways and Defence in the Central List only, and both have been successfully maintaining the homogeneity and integrity of the country despite all odds.
The assets of the Railways have been stabilized, expanded, modernized by generating resources internally and through the General Budgetary Support. Unfortunately, the government has started to reduce the Budgetary Support dropped from 75% to 30% during the period from 5th Five Year Plan to 11th Five Year Plan, causing serious constrain in the matter of expansion, development, de-congestion, maintenance of rolling stock in good fettle to ensure more and more comfortable and safe travel. Large population of the country residing in the remote areas are feeling exclusion as they are yet to see railway track within their vicinity.
Apart from the aforesaid melody, the Railways is the only organization which is paying dividend to General Revenue, whereas National Highways, Ministry of Shipping, Airport Authority of India etc., where General Budgetary Support is provided, are exempted from the obligation of payment of dividend. Over and above, Railways is to bear the brunt of social service obligation of Rs.25,000 crore per annum.
Permissible speed of Mail and Express Trains is between 110-130 kmph, but the average speed of Mail/ Express Trains is 50 kmph, while that of freight trains it is 25.5 kmph. This is because of constrain in the line capacity of large sections of the Indian Railways. Even, out of 1219 sections of High Density Traffic, 492 sections are over saturated with 100-150% capacity and 228 sections with 80-100% capacity, while 80% is the ideal capacity for smooth and efficient movement of trains. This has reduced the movement of both passenger and goods trains. This also affected the turnaround of rolling stock and efficiency indices of the Railwaymen, and freight traffic diverted from rail to road, as National Highways have been developed with huge Government’s Budgetary support..
It is noted with dismay that, without going through the causes of congestion in the existing Railway System and without suggesting any remedy, the High Level Railway Restructuring Committee, headed by Bibek Deb Roy, has gone for setting up of Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority of India, proposing handing over virtual management of the Indian Railways to new entity, outsourcing of working of train services, encouraging the system of outsourcing of regular works of operation and maintenance of train services, Production Units, hospitals etc. to different entities. We have the saddest experience of formation of the Tariff Regulatory Authority in the Telecommunication, Airport Sectors, which have destroyed the BSNL and Indian Airlines.
Indian Railways has been receiving quality rolling stock, hassle-free and timely with lesser cost because of unique service provided by the Railway Production Units. The proposal for formation of the Indian Railway Manufacturing Company will cause constrain in the matter of timely receipt of rolling stock, quality and will escalate the cost, causing further constraint on the working and finance of the Indian Railways.
Medical facilities is an absolute necessity for maintenance of the standard of fitness of the Railwaymen, as their continuance in service entirely depends on their continuous maintenance of same medical standard, classification being A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, C1 and C2. The Railwaymen have been working round-the-clock. They will not get in time to attend different hospitals away from their workplace/home. Their family treatment will suffer. For such a huge population of serving and retired Railwaymen and their family, no outside agency can render medical aid. Virtually they will
have to forgo medical treatment. Besides, per family cost of medical facilities provided by the Railways is only 50% than that of the expenditure being borne by the CGHS.
It is a matter of pride that everybody, especially Railwaymen, nowadays, is very much conscious about the education of their children. The job of the Railwaymen is transferrable. On transfer to a separate place, education of their children becomes a casualty in the matter of admission etc. In the Railway Schools, they get preference for admission of their children in the event of their transfer. It is not out of place to mention here that Health and Education are two important contributory factors in the matter of Human Development Index.
The Bibek Deb Roy Committee has recommended to delink the RPF from the Indian Railway System. Materials and properties of the Railways are lying scattered all over 68,000 km of the Indian Railways. RPF is responsible for safe custody of such materials/properties. RPF provide security to 2.5 crores of travelling passengers daily. Besides, there are incidents of agitations, bomb blasts etc., and general law and order situation of the country has deteriorated. As such, RPF is an integral part of the Railway System and it cannot be delinked, and need to be remained with the Indian Railway System.
It is noted with dismay that Bibek Deb Roy Committee has gone beyond its Terms of Reference and has commented on Compassionate Ground Appointment and Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Staff(LARSGESS). This indicates total biasness of the Committee against the Railway fraternity.
In many advanced countries, such experiment was fraught with danger. Train services deteriorated, safety jeopardized and those governments had to pay hefty grants of billions of Euros/Pounds/Dollars etc. to maintain the system., and ultimately, they had to take back the track as was experienced in the UK, USA, New Zealand and other countries.
The Deb Roy Committee has recommended to dismantle the Railway Board. The Railway Board since its setting up have run and improve the Railway System reasonably. Interference on political consideration has done immense damage to the system. The high officials have been demoralized by abnormal delay in posting of the General Managers and Railway Board Members, and last but not the least by promoting the GMs for the post of CRB, superseding Railway Board Members.
The entire world needs specialization due to improving technologies day-by-day, but here HLRRC suggested merger, which is not acceptable to AIRF. We have never heard, the Government or any Committee talking merger of the IAS, IFS, IRS, IPS etc.
The report of the Rakesh Mohan Committee on Restructuring of the Indian Railways was deliberated upon extensively, and ultimately at Vadodara Railway Staff College, on 15-16 September, 2001, when the then Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Shri Nitish Kumar, with both the MoSRs and his full team of the then CRB and Members of the Railway Board, entire members of the Rakesh Mohan Committee, along with Rakesh Mohan, were present. After two-day deliberations, Hon’ble MR was convinced that, the report was not acceptable for the best interests of running of the Railway System efficiently and smoothly, and it could run efficiently and smoothly, till its level playing field with the Roadways was destroyed by pumping of heavy General Budgetary Support to the development of the National Highways, discriminating the Indian Railway System and by political interference in fixing freight and fare of the Indian Railways.
It is emphatically stated that, the Railways will recover from the present illness, if General Budgetary Support is increased and make it dividend-free as is in the case of National Highway Authority of India, Airport Authority of India, Shipping Ministry etc., and Social Service Obligation is reimbursed, so that that the Railways could go a big way, fighting decongestion of high density and other elite routes, which will increase average speed of both passenger and freight trains and subsequently increase the mobility of rolling stock, viz. locomotives, coaches and wagons, and more and more passenger and freight trains would run on the same routes with same number of rolling stock, generating revenue for the operation and maintenance of the Indian Railways most efficiently.
The Standing Committee Meeting of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation(AIRF), held at New Delhi on 22nd and 23rd May, 2015, discussed the report of the High Level Railway Restructuring Committee, headed by Bibek Deb Roy, gone through the whole recommendations, noted with dismay that, this is the recommendation only to dismantle the whole system of the Indian Railways, replace the Railway Board by Railway Regulatory Authority of India, hand over the entire system to the Corporate Houses to run the Railways by engaging contractors and contract labour replacing the Railwaymen, increasing economic burden to the travelling public, denying concessions, now available to the travelling public, students, female, senior citizens, sick persons, differently abled persons, freedom fighters, sportspersons, media persons etc., replacing regular permanent employees by contract workers.
The Standing Committee of the AIRF has, therefore, arrived at a painful decision of rejecting the report of the committee lock-stock, and barrel. If the report of the said committee is thrust upon the people of the country
and the Railwaymen, AIRF would be compelled to launch sustained struggle, and the responsibility of which shall squarely fall on the Ministry of Railways and Government of India.

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