Most populist move: porters to become gangmen

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi, Feb 26 | Updated: Feb 27 2008, 04:41am hrs
In a move that brings cheers to over 17 lakh porters working in various railway stations across the country, railway minister Lalu Prasad on Tuesday announced appointment of porters as gangmen and other Group D posts.

However, what is more significant is that this move the railways comes at a time the government is bracing up for general elections early next year. This can be seen as one of the most populist measure announced by the railway minister in this years Budget.

The move would mean that the porters would now become employees of railways and would get salaries in addition to other benefits, which are availed by the railways employees.

The move, which is one of the major long pending demand of licensed porters, would also result in substantial increase in salary bill of railways.

Porters working on stations belong to Scheduled Castes and Tribes, other backward castes, minorities and other weaker sections of society. Sources said that the exact modalities of recruiting these porters into the services of railways would be worked out soon.

The railways have thousands of vacant posts of gangmen. A large number of additional vacancies of gangmen would also arise mainly due to promotion of gangmen as gatemen for manning of unmanned level crossings gates.

The move to promote gangmen into gatemen is likely to result in lesser accident. Railways have 16,600 manned level crossing while the number of unmanned crossing stands at 18,200. The accidents at unmanned crossing has increased to 37% of total number of train accidents in 2006-07 from 15% of total accident in 2000-01. Of the 195 consequential accidents, 72 accident occurred at unmanned crossing in 2006-07.