Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani today said some mid-level officials allegedly employing trackmen as domestic helps at their homes were “stray cases” in an organisation of 1.3 million employees where it takes time to bring changes in work culture. Lohani’s remarks came a day after the Railways suspended four class three officials for allegedly employing trackmen for domestic duties. He also said that such incidents cannot be totally eliminated in an organisation like Railways. A TV channel had yesterday shown how the men who were supposed to be engaged in safety work on the tracks were doing menial jobs at the homes of their seniors, mostly supervisors, including cleaning, washing and even erecting fences at their homes.
“We have suspended all of them. We are committed to work culture reforms and we are doing this not because it has been covered by the media, but because it is the right thing to do. “In an organisation of 1.3 million employees, this takes time and stray cases cannot be totally eliminated,” Lohani told PTI. Soon after taking over, both Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal and Lohani had ordered that no railway staff or machinery be misused in any way, as part of their efforts to cut down on VIP culture in the national transporter.
Sources in the ministry say that after the order, almost all the men had returned to duty, except a few. These incidents, they said, cannot be connected to any laxity in safety work as “records show accidents have come down to two digits for the first time in over five decades in 2017-2018”. Officials also said that cases of seniors making juniors work at their homes were not limited to the Railways and it existed in almost all institutions – which needed to change.
Lohani said the cases highlighted by the TV channel were “rare” and the ministry had been able to eliminate such instances in most regions across the country. Even railway union chiefs said that such instances had come down drastically. “After CRB Lohani’s instructions, such cases have really come down, but obviously they have not been eliminated,” Shivagopal Mishra, general secretary of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation, said.
Lohani also said as and when cases such cases come to the fore, action would most definitely be taken against the erring officials.Taking cognizance of the TV report, General Manager of Northern Railway Vishwesh Chaube yesterday directed that the officers concerned be placed under suspension forthwith.
“Northern Railway has placed under suspension all the officials who have been found to be allegedly misusing the services of the railwaymen appointed for maintenance work of tracks and other assets at their homes/private establishments,” said Chaube. Further disciplinary action on the suspended officials would be taken swiftly as per the available documents and evidence, he said.