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  Opinion   Columnists  12 Oct 2022  Dilip Cherian | Railway reforms slow down due to promotion delays

Dilip Cherian | Railway reforms slow down due to promotion delays

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Published : Oct 13, 2022, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Oct 13, 2022, 12:05 am IST

After “rigorous efforts” for over a year, the ministry has finally announced the appointment of 20 officers as divisional railway managers

Some rail babus even speculate whether the ministry will adopt the same method for the appointment of divisional managers and Board members. (Representational Image/ PTI))
 Some rail babus even speculate whether the ministry will adopt the same method for the appointment of divisional managers and Board members. (Representational Image/ PTI))

For a ministry said to be in a hurry to overhaul its functioning, the inordinate delay in making key appointments in the railway ministry often leaves babus and observers baffled. Now, after “rigorous efforts” for over a year, the ministry has finally announced the appointment of 20 officers as divisional railway managers (DRMs).

Earlier, it was given out that the delay was caused by the cumbersome integration of cadres and other “reforms” that railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was overseeing. This apparently also included the removal of the age barrier of a minimum of 52 years for becoming eligible for the post of DRM. However, insiders have informed DKB that if the government ended up maintaining the 52-year criterion, there is little justification for delaying these appointments for more than a year. Some rail babus even speculate whether the ministry will adopt the same method for the appointment of divisional managers and Board members.

Despite the much-lauded merging of all eight organised Group A services of railways into one Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS), ostensibly to eliminate cadre conflicts and departmentalism, and introduce uniformity, it has clearly not given the desired results. There are still some 11 posts of GM Railways still vacant, besides other key vacancies in the ministry. Delayed decisions on key appointments only make the ministry’s challenges more daunting.

IAS officer gets a new assignment, keeps old

AGMUT cadre officer of the 1992 batch, Ashwini Kumar, has been appointed as Delhi’s principal secretary (home). Mr Kumar is posted as a special officer of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and, curiously, his appointment notice mentions that he will continue to discharge this responsibility as well.

The announcement has left many wondering whether Mr Kumar’s position at MCD will now be merely symbolic or supervisory since his new posting will demand all his attention. Sources have informed DKB that Mr Kumar’s term as the special officer of the MCD was a temporary arrangement during the post-merger of the three municipal corporations of Delhi. They believe that by naming him as the principal home secretary, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) is signalling that his active role in the MCD is over, and the home department is now his primary responsibility. Some others see that Mr Kumar’s new role is not so important given that Delhi Police is under the direct control of the ministry. Still, it is an important responsibility given that maintaining law and order in the NCR is no picnic. Moreover, the current strained relations between the MHA and the AAP government in Delhi could add to the babu’s challenges. 

Still, it is being said that Mr Kumar’s batch of IAS officers is due for empanelment as secretary by the end of this year. So, it is quite likely that Mr Kumar could be poised for another role change soon, perhaps even as a secretary at the Centre.

Impending polls influencing transfers in Gujarat

As poll fever grips Gujarat, the administration is in a churn. Babus are being transferred frequently with the forthcoming Assembly elections in mind. Last week, Chief minister Bhupendrabhai Patel ordered the transfers of the municipal commissioners of Surat and Vadodara. This raised questioning eyebrows in babu circles as to why only the two commissioners were moved out.

Surat municipal commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani has been transferred as municipal commissioner of Vadodara. He has been succeeded by VMC commissioner Shalini Agarwal. Mr Pani is reportedly unhappy with his transfer and, according to sources, the officer has requested the state election commission to allow him to continue in Surat to oversee the several projects initiated by him that need his supervision.

Interestingly, Mr Pani is reported to be close to former chief minister Vijay Rupani, and had put in a request for Central deputation, but the state government is unwilling to release him. Similarly, Mr Agarwal had sought a posting in Gandhinagar and in the GST department. That too has been denied. Instead, ahead of the Assembly elections, she will have to cool her heels in Surat, where the Aam Aadmi Party has made significant inroads in the BJP vote bank.

Tags: ashwini vaishnaw, ministry of home affairs, gujarat, indian railways management service, bhupendrabhai patel