Disappointment over abolition of Waltair Division of East Coast Railway subsequent to declaration of South Coast Railway(SCoR) Zone for the State of Andhra Pradesh – urging to roll the back orders and doing complete justice to Railway employees at Waltair(ECoR)…
No.AIRF/445 Dated: September 4, 2019
Hon’ble Minister of Railways,
Ministry of Railways,
Sub: Disappointment over abolition of Waltair Division of East Coast Railway subsequent to declaration of South Coast Railway(SCoR) Zone for the State of Andhra Pradesh – urging to roll the back orders and doing complete justice to Railway employees at Waltair(ECoR)
AIRF would like to draw your kind attention towards the following facts:-
On 27th February 2019, Hon’ble Minister for Railways has declared creation of a New Zone – “South Coast Railway”, headquartered at Visakhapatnam(Andhra Pradesh). It was also declared that, SCoR will comprise of Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada, hitherto in South Central Railway Headquarters Hyderabad and Waltair Division will be split into two, and one part will be incorporated in SCoR while the other will be converted into a new Division with its Headquarters at Rayagada in Odisha.
This, AIRF feels, is a retrograde move in a progressive Nation, to abolish an existing division of 125-year standing, which commenced in 1893, at a stretch at Waltair/Visakhapatnam, and recently the division concluded 125th years celebrations, in a grand way. In a progressive and an ever improving society, there is no place for retreat or regression. The society has to march ahead.
Visakhapatnam is a financially and industrially highly developed city and stood in second position in the undivided Andhra Pradesh and first in New Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation of the state. Not only this, as per GDP estimates of 2017-18, it stood in 10th position in India after Surat City in Gujarat. Similarly, out of 68 Divisions in the Indian Railways, Waltair Division stood at 5th position with earnings of Rs.7,500 crore per annum. Visakhapatnam City is unparalleled in the Indian Railways as no Zone/Division, like Visakhapatnam, has two ports – Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd., Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Hindusthan Petroleum Corporation, Industrial Special Economic Zone, I.T. SEZ ; apart from Eastern Naval Command Headquarters with 1600 kms. coast line, Naval Dockyard, Hindustan Shipyard, Director General of Naval Projects, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Pharmaceutical and Agro Hubs are headquartered at Visakhapatnam. As per Railway assets, Visakhapatnam has Electric Loco Shed, Diesel Loco Shed, two big C&W Workshops coming up at Vadlapudi and Marripalam – work in progress with substantial investments, coach maintenance New Coaching Complex and Ore exchange Yard, Marshalling Yard, Wagon Depot etc.
As per originating earnings, while Rs.3,088,4496 crore were earned by Vijayawada(BZA), Guntur(GNT) and Guntakal (GTL) Divisions put together for 2017-18 and 2018-19, while Waltair Division alone earned Rs.4292 and Rs.4692 crore during the corresponding years respectively. To further simplify it, Walair Division earned Rs.1200 crore in 2017-18 and Rs.200 crore in 2018-19, more than that earned by BZA, GNT GTL, three Divisions put together. This is the reason, why Waltair Division, with the Headquarters at Visakhapatnam, has earned name of Blue Chip Division.
Gazette Notification dated 01.03.2014 of Ministry of Law & Justice, Govt. of India, inter-alia, envisages as under:-
“The Thirteenth Schedule – AP Reorganization Act 2014
8. Indian Railways shall, within six months from the appointed day, examine establishing a new Railway Zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh and take an expeditious decision thereon”.
The legislation is noble in its intent, in that, it never meant to abolish the existing Waltair Division. Moreover, in 167-year history of the Indian Railways, nowhere existing division has been abolished to set up other division, that too a Prestigious Division like Waltair with 125 years of track record. In fact, for the Railway Employees at Waltair, it would not have made any difference, had the Headquarters been located elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh without abolishing Waltair Division. It is pertinent to mention here that, considering the growth of the nation, economically and population-wise, the NDA Governments set up 8 New Divisions, i.e. Nanded, Guntur, Ranchi, Raipur, Rangiya, Agra, Ahmedabad and Pune without disturbing/abolishing the existing and established Divisions in the Indian Railways. With such a progressive and remarkable track record of the NDA in its outlook, can only explain the rationale behind abolition of an outstanding Division like Waltair, which is in close vicinity of Visakhapatnam Port Trust, functioning from 1933 and one of the major ports in 13 major ports of India, with second highest cargo handling in India and Railways having close links with Visakhapatnm Port Trust.
In 1998, after the BJP came to power, with only two divisions – Bilaspur and Nagpur, the Zone called “South East Central Railway” started functioning, with the Headquarters at Bilaspur. Afterwards, taking out 292 kms. from neighbouring Divisions, a small Division, Raipur was started, as third Division of South East Central Railway. Similarly, Waltair, with around 1100 route kms., can be bifurcated and one part with about 500 kms., Division at Rayagada, can be formed and existing Waltair Division can be retained with about 600 kms – which is double the route kms of Raipur Division. “Where there is a will, there is a way”.
Most importantly, life and habitat of poor 11,000 employees of Waltair Division will be shattered, with seniority disputes, transfers, displacement of families, educational, medical problems, and it will be an utter chaos to ruin 125-year history of Waltair Division. Not only employees of Waltair Division, but also employees of South Central Railway, Headquarters at Hyderabad, will have to be displaced to join in new SCoR Headquarters at Visakhapatnam. What was expected out of this exercise?
In the Railway work culture, normally Division is an important point of referral for the employees, as regards, Salaries, Bonus, Allowances, like TA, NDA, OT, NHA, CEA, medical reimbursements, recoveries in differences of pay and allowances, recoveries as a measure of punishments imposed and host of other service matters. All these are dealt in bill sections of the Personnel Branch in a Divisional Headquarters Office. Therefore, every employee will be dealing with the Divisional Headquarters Office. Vijayawada Division with 20, 000 employees and Waltair Division with 11,000 employees, have to run to Vijayawada – 700 kms away(to and fro) to get their works done, and the same is the case with Divisional Officers with their accompanying staff for inspections, enquiries and other administrative matters.
The officers and staff, in the proposed residual part of Waltair (Division), with about 500 route kms., will be put to lot of hardship to run to Vijayawada Division, 500 kms. away to do their regular works connected to Divisional Office, while their PHoDs at the Zonal Headquarters level will be sitting at Visakhapatam to report back, which is characterized by huge effort to the point of physical exhaustion, on one hand and draining out resources of the organization in the form of TA/DA etc. This is an uneconomical proposition, hence undesirable.
Without seeking options from the employees, over 68 Divisions of the Indian Railways to work in new Rayagada Division, and similarly in new SCoR Zone, Railway employees and their families are apprehended with anxiety, fear and dread of transfer to Rayagada Division, slated to start operations from August 30, 2019, as per Railway Board’s orders. This is unwarranted and uncalled for and at best, premature.
Our East Railway Affiliate – East Coast Railway Shramik Union, in order to protest against the above unfair labour principles, staged dharna in front of the office of the DRM Waltair, on 07.03.2019 and 26.07.2019, in which huge number of staff and their family members participated and handed over a memorandum to the DRM Waltair.
Waltair Division(ECoR) has grown as an exemplar in last 125-years of successful, ethical and a responsible organization. Perhaps, posterity will not forgive us, if such an important division is destroyed beyond the recognition, as the government is doing now.
We earnestly hope that, you will support us in this cause and render everything to continue Waltair Division either in its present form by shifting SCoR Headquarters to other parts of Andhra Pradesh or continue the Division with 600 route kms. strength, as Raipur Division, with 250 kms. strength, is in existence over the Indian Railways. Considering this precedent, Waltair Division may be retained, even in small format, with 600 route kms. with Headquarters at Visakhapatnam.
We sincerely hope that, this will receive your due consideration on priority and action taken may kindly be advised to us at the earliest possible.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Copy to: General Secretary, East Coast Railway Shramik Union – for information.