'If accused staff took back, in this way, then how can safely run the Railway Administration?'
New Delhi: The 13 Railway field officials, who had been removed by using Section 14.2 of the employment rules following the Utkal Express accident near Khatauli in 19th August, are likely to be being taken back soon, even as the inquiry will proceed as usual.
'We have been assured by officials that the letters will be taken back,' said Shiva Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), adding that his union was not against inquiries per se.
Following the Utkal Express accident, 13 people from the field were immediately removed from service, including 11 Trackmen, one Blacksmith and a Junior Engineer, according to reports. Section 14.2, according to experts, is used only when a free and fair inquiry is not possible.
'The report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety says that trackmen are not at fault. We expect them to join back soon,' Mishra said. He was participating in an employee conference on railway safety here. On the issue of rail safety, Mishra said other aspects, such as quality of the material used, should also be taken into account. 'Also, it needs to be seen whether more outsourced people being engaged are skilled or not, and whether these people understand track geometry. The supporting machines of track machines are being operated by outsourced people,' he pointed out.
Citing lack of good quality material as one of the reasons for accidents, Mishra said that public sector steel major, SAIL, the sole supplier to the Railways, was unable to meet the demand as a result of which the Railways had decided to use the rails for new lines to replace the maintenance tracks.
Incidentally, the final report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) is yet to be submitted, but the preliminary report has indicated 'human failure', an official said. As per the process, even after the final CRS report, there is a departmental inquiry, and there is a chance of the issue going to Court.
'The Chairman, Railway Board has written to General Managers asking them not to use such clauses (Section 14.2) for the staff, as such clauses are used only when inquiries are not possible,' said Mishra.
He said removal of the field staff of 13, and the move of DRM and GM being sent on leave 'demoralises the institution', adding that staff vacancies, particularly in the safety category, should be filled.
Speaking on the issue of bungalow peons or telephone attendant-cum-dak khalasis (TADKs), Mishra said this facility was supposed to be taken away during the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation. This time around, the Railways has implemented it without going to the Cabinet, he added.
Mishra said there were about 72,000 vacancies for gangmen and trackmen, a crucial segment for rail safety, pointing out that a good number among those already employed has been deployed at homes of officials.
'If accused staff took back, in this way, then how can safely run the Railway Administration?' said a senior railway official of Northern Railway.