The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved productivity-linked bonus (PLB), which is equivalent of 78 days’ wages, for 11.91 lakh eligible non-gazetted railway employees for the year 2018-19. The decision will cost the transporter around Rs 2,044.31 crore.
The transporter has been paying PLB equivalent of 78 days’ wages to these employees — which do not include Railway Protection Force and Railway Protection Special Force —for the past seven years, before the festival of Dussehra, to increase the productivity of employees. The maximum amount payable per eligible railway employee will be Rs 17,951 for the current year.
Last year, about 12.30 lakh non-gazetted railway employees were paid PLB having a financial implication of around Rs 2,245.45 crore on the railways.
“Payment of PLB to eligible railway employees is made each year before the Dusshera/Puja holidays. The decision of the Cabinet shall be implemented before the holidays for this year as well,” said a government release.
The railways were the first departmental undertaking of the government wherein the concept of PLB was introduced in 1979-80. Earlier, the bonus was paid equivalent to 72 days’ of wages.
During the early hours of the day, the New Farakka Express (Train No. 14003) derailed near Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, killing five people and injuring several. The reason for the accident was not known immediately and the commissioner of railway safety has ordered an inquiry. The accident led to at least 26 trains being cancelled, diverted or short-terminated.
The accident comes shortly after the railways started providing scheduled blocks on weekdays and mega blocks on Sundays across railway zones, wherein train movement is stopped and repair works are carried out.
Safety has been accorded the highest priority by the Indian Railways especially after the derailment of the Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, in which 20 people died in August last year.
While the railways is targeting to renew 3,900 km of old tracks — the primary reason for accidents — in 2018-19, it is facing challenges due to short supply of rails.
For 2017-18, the sole supply supplier of rails, Steel Authority of India, had committed to supply 11.45 lakh tonne of rails, but fell short by 3.14 lakh tonne. As reported by FE earlier, in the current financial year as well, the company has been supplying only 70,000 tonne of rails every month, which translates to around 8.4 lakh tonne for the year compared with the revised supply target of 12 lakh tonne. To fulfil the demand, the Indian Railways plans to float a global tender for 7.5 lakh tonne of rails shortly.