Uncertainty over promotions and career progression have begun to worry officers as the railways announced big ticket reforms in the national carrier by merging its cadres and departments. The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the organisational restructuring of the railways through unification of the existing eight Group A services into one central service -- the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS). Ministry officials said the move was required as there was huge "departmentalism" that delayed many projects.
The government has, however, said that clarity on the issue will emerge when a committee of secretaries and a panel of ministers take a call on the policy to decide on around a total of 8,200 officers. Some officers, however, point out that the announcement of the mergers should have been made after firming up the policy.
Senior officials also claimed that while the government has said the idea behind the move was to end departmentalism, it would in actuality create two silos -- one consisting of technical officers like mechanical and engineering and others who deal with operations and personnel.
"I don't think this will work out. It's very simple. If an officer is not assured of his seniority, why else would he work? It will eventually affect the working of railways. Also, if seniority and performance are mixed then things could be really arbitrary," an official said.
Another posed that the government could look at the Date of Increment In Time Scale (DITS), which is used to fix seniority when a combined cadre of general managers is created. Under this, the basic criterion is the joining date, in case of the same date, date of birth is used as the criterion.
"A basic problem I have with this is that people with a specific skill set might be pushed to perform other work. There is no clarity on this. Also, railways' engineers have specific skills - mechanical and electrical. One cannot be substituted with the other," said another officer, who apprehended that the non-technical officers may get a raw deal under this system.
The government on Tuesday said that the reform will have no impact on the promotion of officers. Currently, there are 10 secretary level posts in the railway board and now another 27 general manager level officers will get the apex grade pay, it said.