The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nitish vow on safety panel posts

New Delhi, Jan. 8: Union railway minister Nitish Kumar today increased the financial powers of general managers in all the zones from Rs 3 crore to Rs 10 crore and promised to fill up 25,000 Group D employees in the safety category within a year.

In a major decision that will open up job opportunities in the railways, Kumar has promised to soon clear a backlog of jobs in the safety category. There are about 25,000 vacancies to be filled up in the departments that are responsible for safety.

About 12,000 posts of gangmen are to be filled up in the safety organisation of the Indian Railways. The safety organisation was created following the recommendations of the Kunzru committee in 1962 and was enlarged on the basis of the recommendations made by the Wanchoo committee in 1968.

The safety organisation functions as a three-tier arrangement at the Railway Board, zonal headquarters and divisional level.

Senior officials in the ministry said: “There will not be any immediate major financial burden due to the decision taken by the ministry to clear the backlog but the recurring financial burden will have to be examined and analysed.”

Kumar also announced an increase in the powers of chief safety officer that will be now at par with the vigilance officer and his office will be restructured along the lines of the vigilance organisation.

General managers/divisional railway managers have been made more accountable and will be held responsible in case of serious accidents.

Announcing the details of the decisions taken at the special meeting of general managers on safety held here today, Kumar said: “Finance will not be a constraint and there will also not be any delay in the flow of funds. The financial powers of general managers for procurement of safety-related equipment has been increased from Rs 3 crore to Rs 10 crore.”

“We have also decided that the post of chief safety officer will be open to all disciplines other than the Railway Protection Force, medical, personnel, accounts and stores as recommended by the Railway Safety Review Committee,” said Kumar. Till now, this was only open to the traffic department.

The additional teeth given to the chief safety officer will allow the officers to seek clarifications from general managers on the various measures being taken by them to maintain safety in the areas under them. This will also allow them to scrutinise the budget of the division.

“Similarly, recommendations of the safety review committee for posting of the commissioner for railway safety on the same lines will also be accepted and recommended to the ministry of civil aviation for their action,” he said.

Last week, the ministry had blamed human failure as the prima facie cause for the accident of the Secunderabad-Manmad Express in Maharashtra, in which 14 people died.

Senior railway officials in the ministry said: “Normally, there are about 10 checks that are carried out by the personnel manning the stations. But, on many occasions, a few of them do not complete these checks due to many reasons like fatigue and the monotonous nature of the job.”

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