Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has cleared all files relating to transfers and postings that had been gathering dust for several months.
Mr. Kharge’s priority is to fill vacancies so as to quicken development initiatives, which have made little headway in UPA-II.
In the past four years, the Railways have been disrupted by political and administrative instability, and politicking, unknown in the past, has crippled the decision-making process and stalled the execution of infrastructure projects.
The Ministry has had seven political bosses in less than four years; political instability meant the Prime Minister himself had to hold the portfolio twice, albeit briefly.
Several posts on the Railway Board have remained vacant for several months. The previous chairman did not stick to the time line for filling them. But the delay failed to get him an extension in service. Matters came to such a pass that an interim chairman had to be appointed. Only four members are running the Board now, holding additional charges.
As the vacancies hampered the execution of critical works, Mr. Kharge acted to clear the files.
While he awaits the Central Vigilance Commission’s clearance for appointment of chairman and three members of the Railway Board, Mr. Kharge has sent a panel of seven nominees for zonal managers to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. These appointments are likely to be made very soon.
However, the attempt to fill the post of Member (Traffic) of the Board has been hampered by the Central Administrative Tribunal’s order, which stayed the process, on a petition of N.C. Sinha, Chief Operating Manager, South Western Railway, who claimed he was senior enough to be considered for the post.
It is learnt that the Prime Minister’s Office favours institution of a case against Mr. Sinha, as desired by the Central Vigilance Commission, though the internal vigilance wing has cleared him of charges. The Railways intend to file a rejoinder at the CAT to get the stay vacated.
The process for appointing more than 20 Divisional Railway Managers has also been initiated. When the vacancies are filled, Mr. Kharge will have accomplished a major task before embarking on other critical matters, for which the Prime Minister has set a deadline.