New Delhi: National carrier Indian Railways has begun the process of launching one of its biggest recruitment drives, to hire 89,000 Group C and D employees, including assistant loco pilots, technicians, gangmen, switchmen, trackmen, cabinmen, welders, helpers and porters.
In a tweet on Wednesday, railway minister Piyush Goyal announced the railway recruitment drive, saying there were Group D openings for 62,907 jobs.
According to a railways notification, in Group D, vacancies are open for candidates who have passed Classes X or have an ITI (industrial training institute) diploma. Those who make it will get a monthly salary of Rs18,000 per month and allowances as per Seventh Central Pay Commission (Level 1). The recruitment will be done through the Railway Recruitment Cell. The jobs are open to those in the age group of 18-31 years with age relaxations for different quotas. The last date for submission of applications is 12 March. Similarly, 26,502 vacancies for the posts of assistant loco pilots and technicians under Group C will be filled.
A senior railway official on condition of anonymity said, “Most of the recruitment is for the safety category and as per our estimates this additional recruitment will cost around Rs3,000-4,000 crore annually to the railway exchequer." He added that the Union Budget 2018-19 has provisions for this expenditure.
Indian Railways spends a big chunk of its finances on its staff. Staff expenses have grown from Rs69,713.22 crore in 2016-17 to Rs72,705.57 crore in 2017-18. For the next fiscal, staff expenditure is pegged at around Rs76,451.89 crore.
A second senior government official, who also declined to be named, said, “They are just replacement of vacancies due to retirements. The recruitment process will be unable to fulfil the vacancy gap in railways. It’s not easy to fulfil the gap of over one lakh vacancies and the issue of safety in railways will remain unaddressed." He added that there were proposals to shift some of these vacancies from permanent to contractual work, but that the decision on this was yet to be taken.
While the railways are gearing up for such a mass recruitment, on an average 40,000 to 45,000 employees retire every year from the Indian Railways, according to the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), a union of railway employees. “This fiscal around 56,000 railway employees are expected to retire," said an AIRF spokesperson. According to the railway ministry figures, as of 1 April 2016 there were 122,000 vacancies in the safety category.
Former railway board chairman Arunendra Kumar said, “It’s an annual recruitment. It’s long overdue, especially following the average trend of 3.3% of work force retiring every year. Safety is an important aspect for railways and workforce is required to ensure it. It should happen regularly."