Manpower Management in Indian Railways

4.1    Introduction

Indian Railways is a labour intensive industry having a workforce of over 1.5 million regular employees with an annual wage bill amounting to about Rs.19037 crore. Productivity of costly physical assets owned by Indian Railways for carrying out its core business of transporting men and material all over the country is largely dependent on effective manpower management.

In the past couple of decades there have been vast changes in the operational technologies in Indian Railways by way of modernisation, electrification, computerisation and mechanisation of track maintenance. These changes, in turn, require a completely new approach to manpower planning.

4.2    Manpower Position in Indian Railways

Railway employees are working in various categories in the Zonal Railways and Productions Units. There are around 700 categories of staff divided into four Groups viz. Group A, B, C & D assigned according to working responsibilities. The manpower is mainly distributed in Open line & Construction Wings having Engineering, Signal & Telecommunication, Electrical, Administration, Accounts and Stores departments. Open line in addition has staff working in the Transportation, Mechanical, Commercial, Medical and Security departments.

The staff expenditure for 15,10,759 employees of the Indian Railways as on 31 March 2002 was 19037.20 crore. This is 51.42 per cent of gross expenditure and 48.37 per cent of gross revenue receipts. A comparison of present staff expenditure and staff cost with that of 1990-91 would reveal that the staff strength has reduced by about 8.54 per cent but the staff expenditure has gone up by 268.51 per cent.

The increasing staff cost and the magnitude of the cost in relation to gross expenditure and gross receipts only emphasises the importance of effective management of manpower over Indian Railways.

4.3    Highlights

Despite instituting a mechanism of monitoring manpower strength, it was observed in audit that the manpower inventory maintained by the Railways was far from accurate. A review of the figures reported in the monthly PCDO's, the Annual statistical statements and the Book of Sanctions for the period 1999-2000 to 2002-03 revealed that all the figures were at variance with each other.

(Para 4.8.1)

Compliance to Railway Board’s instructions of 1992 to reduce the sanctioned strength by three per cent and operated strength by two per cent was poor.

As against an expected reduction of 4,43,232 posts in sanctioned strength, reduction of 1,73,851 posts was achieved over a period of 11 years since issue of orders. The compliance by Northern and South Eastern Railways was particularly poor.

(Para 4.9.1)

Reduction in operated strength was only 1,97,656 posts as against 3,12,038 posts expected over a period of 11 years. The compliance of South Eastern, Northern, Central and South Central Railways was far below the expected level. Non-achievement of expected reduction is burdening the Railway exchequer by Rs.1449 crore per annum.

(Para 4.9.2)

Intake of Railway employees was to be restricted to one per cent per annum of men on roll in respect of Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, S&T, Transportation and Commercial departments and to 0.5 per cent in other departments. Compliance to this order was not achieved by most Railways. South Central Railway’s performance in this regard was particularly poor.

[Para 4.9.3 (i)]

Intake by way of compassionate appointments in essential categories was was excluded from the application the orders pertaining to restrictions of intake. This resulted in large scale recruitment through this mode. A total of 23498 compassionate appointments were made during 2000-01 to 2002-03 which was 49.91 per cent of total intake. Compassionate appointments were highest on Northern Railway.

The Zonal Railways flouted the orders of Railway Board by making compassionate appointments in non-essential categories. Audit found that 5306 appointments were made in non-essential categories.

[Paras 4.9.3 (iii) & (iv)]

During the period of review 1102 work studies were conducted and 63939 posts were identified as surplus. Out these 31195 posts were surrendered and staff working against 7300 posts was re-deployed elsewhere. 5921 posts were declared supernumerary and the staff working against these posts continued to serve with no justifiable work resulting in unproductive expenditure of Rs.52.52 crore.

(Para 4.10.2)

Closure of 25 Carriage & Wagons maintenance yards in five Zonal Railways rendered 863 staff a surplus. Only 456 have been re-deployed so far. There has been delay in re-deployment. On Eastern Railway 282 staff still await redeployment.

Due to introduction of electric traction, two Diesel Loco Sheds were closed during review period. 153 staff of Mughalsarai Shed are yet to be redeployed.

(Paras 4.10.5 & 4.10.6)

Test check of availability of norms in Electrical, Mechanical and Civil departments revealed that for four, two & seven activities respectively, no norms existed. Where norms existed, detailed scrutiny revealed deployment of excess staff in coach maintenance activity (Mechanical) and track maintenance activity (Civil Engineering).

(Paras 4.12.1 & 4.12.2)

Benchmarking was introduced in Indian Railways as a method of rightsizing its manpower. The first benchmark introduced was in respect of track men per ETKM for track maintenance work. Northern and Central Railways were unable to achieve the benchmark even after 12 years of the issue of instructions.

Similar benchmarking exercise has been commenced for other activities only in 2000, a full nine years after recognizing the need to introduce it in all areas of Railways functioning.

(Para 4.13)

Modernisation of Workshops has led to a number of staff being rendered as surplus. As on 31 March 2003, 2768 staff was yet to be redeployed. Apart from delay in re-deployment, retention of extra staff has led to unproductive expenditure of Rs. 73.06 crore in workshops affected by modernization.

Staff are justified in Workshops on the basis of outturn target and any achievement less than the fixed output is a reflection of excess staff. Staff numbering 5215 and 3459 were found excess on the basis of actual outturn which led to extra expenditure of Rs.66.05 crore and Rs.43.80 crore during the years 2001-02 and 2002-03 respectively.

(Paras 4.14.1 & 4.14.2)

In Civil and Electrical departments of Construction Organization 86, 153 & 70 Gazetted posts were operated in excess of requirement as per norms during the year 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 respectively resulting in extra expenditure of Rs.3.92 crore.

(Para 4.15.1)

Delay in redeployment and non redeployment of 1413 and 333 staff rendered surplus after completion of sanctioned works in Construction Organisations of Northern and Central Railways has led to unproductive expenditure of Rs.30.01 crore and Rs.4.13 crore respectively.

(Para 4.15.2)

Despite recognition of the system of providing peons at the residences of certain categories of officers as an anachronism that needs to be done away with, the system continues with 1008 Bungalow Peons being engaged as on 31March 2003. Engagement of Bungalow Peons was highest on South Eastern, Northern, Central, Northeast Frontier and Southern Railways.

(Para 4.16)

Staff for newly created Zonal Railways in Group B, C & D cadres have been transferred only after obtaining their willingness. This resulted in transferring of 398 and 272 staff only from Western and Northern Railways as against 643 and 559 posts respectively required to be transferred to North Western Railway. Similarly only 136 and 318 staff from Eastern and North Eastern Railways was transferred as against 1961 and 688 staff respectively required to be transferred to East Central Railway. This has resulted in excess staff in the present Railways with no justifiable workload.

(Para 4.17)

4.4    Organisation

Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) has a full fledged Manpower Planning Directorate headed by Member (Staff) who is assisted by an Executive Director, Joint Directors and Directors. The Directorate takes all policy decisions for the management of manpower on Indian Railways.

At the Zonal Railway Headquarter, Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) implements the policies relating to the manpower management. CPO is assisted by Deputy Chief Personnel Officer/Senior Personnel Officers and Assistant Personnel Officers. A Planning Branch, under the control of CPO, is functioning in each Zonal Railway. The Planning Branch comprises the Corporate Planning Cell, the Efficiency Cell and Staff Inspection Units also called Work Study Cells. The Corporate Planning Cell draws up five year and 15 year Plans and prepares the annual integrated budget. The Efficiency Cell conducts work studies and suggests ways of minimising wages, steps for improving efficiency and effecting economy. Staff Inspection Unit conducts inspections of various departments to review staff requirements based on actual time studies of various activities of the department/ unit.

Senior Personnel Officers/ Personnel Officers and Assistant Personnel Officers look after the work of personnel management at Divisions and other units of the Railways.

4.5    Scope & Audit Objectives

This review is focused on the efficacy of efforts made by the Railways for achieving economy and increasing productivity in the context of technological changes taking place in open line & construction organisations. The specific areas of focus are -

4.6    Sample Size

At the macro level, records maintained in CPO’s office have been audited to review the adequacy of managerial and administrative controls. A general review of manpower relating to Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering departments was undertaken. At the micro level the review was conducted on 19 Divisions (minimum of two Divisions in each Zonal Railway) with specific focus on all the electric and diesel loco sheds in the selected Divisions and 26 Workshops on nine (Nine Zonal Railways became eleven from 1 October 2002 and 16 from 1.4.2003 but for the purpose of this review they are reckoned as 9 Zonal Railways as per original jurisdictions.) Zonal Railways. Macro review covers the period from 1998-99 to 2002-03 and micro review from 2000-01 to 2002-03.

[Annexure XXVII]

4.7    Manpower Planning

Manpower planning in any institution involves -

Keeping in view the increasing trend in the wage packet of its employees, Indian Railway Corporate Plan 1985-2000 envisaged institution of a formal system of manpower planning. Railway Board appointed Rail India Technical and Economic Services Limited (RITES) in January 1990 to undertake a diagnostic study to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its current manpower.

RITES in its report (1991) had observed that the manpower deployment in various activities of the Railways was very high and recommended effective monitoring of manpower strength, reduction in staff by freezing of existing vacancies, putting a recruitment ban, ad-hoc cut in staff strength, introduction of voluntary retirement scheme, timely identification of surplus staff, controlling quality and level of recruitment, etc.

The progress made by Railways in implementing the recommendations along with other steps taken by Railway Board for manpower planning were reviewed in Audit and following observations are made:

4.8    Monitoring of Manpower Strength

Availability of accurate inventory of manpower in an institution is vital for effective utilisation of the resource. RITES in their report had observed that suitable manpower information for the purpose of monitoring was not readily available on the Railways or was insufficiently detailed. It was, therefore, recommended that manpower information system of the Railway may be redesigned and a system of reporting manpower strength at various levels be introduced which will force the field units to be realistic in setting manpower targets and achieving them.

4.8.1    In July 1992, Railway Board emphasised the need of setting up of a effective monitoring system at the Divisional, Zonal and Railway Board's level. The Divisional Authorities were to intimate every month to the Zonal Headquarter, the inflow/outflow of the staff (Group C and D) through every means of appointment/retirement including transfers from/to other units. Similarly the Zonal Railways were to intimate to the Board through monthly PCDO the number of posts at the beginning and end of every month indicating increase/ decrease in the sanctioned post (as per Book of Sanctions) and Operated posts.

Despite instituting a mechanism of monitoring manpower strength, it was observed in audit that the manpower inventory maintained by the Railways was far from accurate. A review of the figures reported in the monthly PCDO's, the Annual statistical statements and the Book of Sanctions for the period 1999-2000 to 2002-03 revealed that the figures were at variance with each other.

4.8.2    In August 2002, Railway Board taking note of huge variation in the figures appearing in the Annual Statistical Statements and those reported to them through PCDO, issued instructions to carry out census of employees and furnish unit wise details of all staff based on the paid salary bills. Census of staff on Zonal Railways was carried out only in respect of Group C & D employees. Even after carrying out the census, the figures of March 2003 in various records continued to be different.

4.9    Reduction in staff strength

In order to achieve reduction in the staff strength, RITES had suggested resorting to putting immediate ban on recruitment, ad-hoc cuts in staff strength, early retirement by offering some incentive in the shape of enhanced retirement benefits and voluntary retirement scheme. In May 1992 during the General Manager's conference, Chairman Railway Board had expressed that every year about three to four per cent staff retire and thus there was adequate scope for manpower planning. Zonal Railways were, therefore, directed to review the existing vacancies and surrender those which were not necessary. Instructions were also issued to achieve a reduction of three per cent in sanctioned strength and two per cent in operated strength.

The position of total sanctioned and operated strength of Group C and D on Indian Railway as on 31 march 1992 was compared with sanctioned and operated strength as on 31 March 2003 to ascertain the extent to which Board's instructions were implemented.

4.9.1    Audit scrutiny revealed that the sanctioned staff strength which stood at 16,67,851 as on 31 March 1992 was reduced to 14,94,000 as on 31 March 2003 achieving a reduction of 1,73,851 (10.42 per cent) as against 4,43,232 (28.47 per cent) required to be achieved at the rate of three per cent per annum over a period of 11 years. Railway wise position in achieving the expected reduction is discussed below:

On Northern Railway the reduction in sanctioned strength was a mere 1,221 (0.5 per cent) as against 70,052 (28.47 per cent) required.

South Eastern Railway achieved a reduction of 4,901 (2.22 per cent) as against 31,128 (14.13 per cent) required to be achieved between 1998-99 and 2002-03.

The reduction achieved by Central, Northeast Frontier, Southern, North Eastern, South Central, Western and Eastern Railways was 8.83 per cent, 10.50 per cent, 11.01 per cent, 12.25 per cent, 12.54 per cent, 14.53 per cent and 22.77 per cent respectively.

[Annexure XXVIII(i)]

4.9.2    The operated strength of Group C and D which stood at 15,65,673 on 31 March 1992 was reduced to 13,68,017 as on 31 March 2003. The reduction achieved over a period of 11 years was 1,97,656 (12.62 per cent) as against 3,12,038 (19.93 per cent) required to be achieved at the rate of two per cent per annum over a period of 11 years. Thus due to non achievement of the reduction target in operated strength, Indian Railway is incurring extra expenditure of approximately Rs.1,449 crore per annum. Railway wise position in reduction of operated strength is given below:

As against the expected reduction of 39,503, 49,039, 42,894 and 25,035 by South Eastern, Northern, Central and South Central Railways, reduction was only 9,438 (4.76 per cent), 14,481 (5.89 per cent), 14,462 (6.72 per cent) and 11,236 (8.94 per cent) respectively.

The actual reduction achieved by North Eastern (12.48 per cent), Northeast Frontier (15.45 per cent), Southern (15.47 per cent), Central (17.12 per cent) and Western (17.44 per cent) was better than the Railways mentioned above.

[Annexure XXVIII (ii)]

4.9.3    Reduction of Manpower through restriction in recruitment

The intake of the Railway employees in various groups (Group A, B, C & D) is made by resorting to direct recruitment through Union Public Service Commission and Railway Recruitment Board, recruitment from open market, recruitment on compassionate grounds etc. RITES in its report had recommended immediate ban on recruitment. No action was taken till August 2000 when in view of the Government's policy of rightsizing its manpower, Railway Board issued instructions to Zonal Railways for restricting the intake of manpower to a maximum of one per cent per annum separately in Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Signal & Telecommunication, Transportation & Commercial Departments and a maximum of 0.5 per cent of the men on roll for other departments. The restriction of one and 0.5 per cent was to include intake from all sources including inter department transfers but excluding compassionate appointments made in essential categories where no surpluses were likely to be generated in foreseeable future. These instructions were slightly modified in December 2001, when Railway Board permitted the General Managers/Divisional Railway Managers to decide the number of employees to be inducted in each department subject to overall intake limit of one per cent per annum to whole group of departments viz Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Signal & Telecommunication, Transportation & Commercial and intake limit of 0.5 per cent to whole group of other departments.

(i)    In view of the fact that intake limit of one per cent and 0.5 per cent was to be observed separately for each department up to December 2001, Audit reviewed department wise intake of manpower during the year 2001-02 and found that:

Six Zonal Railways failed to observe the one per cent intake limit in one or more departments. The excess intake in six departments was Mechanical (266), Transportation (258), Electrical (136), S&T (132), Commercial (75) and Civil (7) involving extra expenditure of Rs.11.07 crore per annum.

The excess was very high on South Central in Mechanical (264) and Electrical (90); Central in Transportation (213) and S&T (72); Southern in Commercial (59); South Eastern in Electrical (46) and Western in Transportation and Electrical (37 each).

Almost all the Zonal Railways except Northern failed to observe the 0.5 per cent intake limit in one or more departments. The excess intake was in Medical (271) followed by Administration (50), Personnel (44), Accounts (23) and stores (11). The extra expenditure involved was of Rs.5.04 crore.

The Railways where the excess intake in Medical department was very high are South Eastern (121), Central (59), in Eastern (48), and Western (22).

The total excess intake due to non-observance of Railway Board’s instruction aggregated to 1,273 resulting in financial burden of Rs.16.11 crore per annum.

[Annexure XXIX (i)]

(ii)    As the intake limit of one and 0.5 per cent was to be observed for whole group of departments after December 2001, Audit undertook review of overall intake of manpower within the two groups of departments for the year 2002-03 and found that:

South Central Railway failed to observe the one per cent intake restriction for whole group of departments viz. Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Signal & Telecommunication, Transportation & Commercial and exceeded the limit by 452 resulting in extra expenditure of Rs.5.72 crore per annum.

Similarly six employees were inducted in excess of prescribed intake limit of 0.5 per cent in other Departments of South Central Railway resulting in extra expenditure of Rs.0.07 crore per annum.

[Annexure XXIX (ii)]

(iii)    Audit observed that by excluding the compassionate appointments in essential categories from the application of orders regarding restriction of intake limit, the Zonal Railways were prompted to resort to heavy recruitment on compassionate grounds defeating the very purpose of issuing orders to restrict recruitment. As against the total intake of 15,635 during 2000-01, 15,633 during 2001-02 and 15,813 during 2002-03, the intake through compassionate appointments was 7,178 (45.91 per cent), 7,932 (50.74 per cent) and 8,388 (53.04 per cent) respectively. Railways where the intake on compassionate grounds was very high are given below:

The intake through compassionate appointments was highest by Northern, Railway viz. 1,142 (70.89 per cent) as against the total intake of 1,611 during 2000-01, 1,410 (74.13 per cent) as against 1,902 during 2001-02 and 1,192 (82.32 per cent) as against 1,448 during 2002-03.

The intake of 497 (82.56 per cent) in 2000-01, 684 (62.82 percent) in 2001-02 and 498 (64.18 per cent) in 2002-03 as against total intake of 602, 1,089 and 776 respectively on Northeast Frontier Railway was also very high.

(iv)    Not only was the intake through compassionate appointments very high, they were also in non-essential categories which is against the Railway Board's orders. On Southern Railway where the figures were available for all the years, it was seen that the intake on compassionate grounds in other than essential categories was 1,279. On Central and Northern Railways where the figures for the years 2001-02 and 2002-03 were available it was found that a total of 1,384 and 2,182 appointments were made in other than essential categories as against 696 and 420 respectively made in essential categories. The appointments in other than essential categories made by Eastern, Northeast Frontier and Western Railways during the year 2002-03 were 95, 19 and 347 respectively.

[Annexure XXIX (iii)]

4.9.4    Reduction of manpower through Early Retirement/Voluntary Retirement

RITES in their report had observed that an option available for reducing the size is to induce outflow from the organisation and suggested retirement of those above the age of 50 by offering some incentives in the form of enhanced benefits or weeding out on the basis of performance. Government of India introduced (February 2002) a ‘Special Voluntary Retirement Scheme’(SVRS) to all its Employees who have been declared surplus.

Scrutiny by Audit, however, revealed that despite a large number of employees on Zonal Railways having been declared surplus (as discussed in ensuing paragraphs), no action has been taken by Railway Board to introduce a similar scheme for its employees.

4.10    Timely identification of Surplus staff and their useful redeployment

In view of major technological changes taking place in the Indian Railway system it is imperative to identify activities that have become redundant and re-deploy the staff that become surplus. RITES in their report had recommended the concept of zero base budgeting in manpower planning at least once in five years as in such budgeting the Managers in the organisation had to justify presence of every employee. In each Zonal Railway Work Study Teams/ Staff Inspection Units (SIUs) undertake studies from time to time to identify such activities and suggest efficient methods of operation to effect manpower savings.

A review was undertaken to ascertain the impact of studies undertaken by Work Study Cells/ SIUs and following observations are made:

4.10.1    Every year in the month of February, Zonal Railways are required to send their annual work study programme to the Railway Board for approval. Apart from the work studies approved by Board, General Managers of Zonal Railways also approve some work studies (known as crash studies). The position of work study programmes submitted to Board, work studies approved by Board/ General Managers and work studies actually undertaken during the year 1998-99 to 2002-03 was reviewed in Audit and it was noticed that:

4.10.2 As soon as the Work Study Team completes the study, a report on its recommendations is prepared and submitted to CPO for approval. On receipt of approval, a copy of the report is sent to the department concerned for acceptance of recommendations. Simultaneously, a copy of the study report is also sent to the Railway Board for information. The findings of the SIU/Work Study Cell should be implemented within a period of three months and the posts identified as surplus should be surrendered/ re-deployed. The implementation of the accepted recommendations is followed up by the Central Planning Cell and progress in this regard is sent to the Railway Board every quarter.

The position of the work studies conducted during the period 1998-99 to 2002-03, number of posts identified as surplus and the follow up action taken to surrender/ re-deploy the surplus posts/ staff was reviewed in audit and it was found that:

In 1,102 work studies conducted, 63939 posts were identified as surplus. Out of these 31,195 posts were surrendered and staff working against 7,300 posts was re-deployed elsewhere. 5,921 posts were declared supernumerary and the staff working against these posts continued to serve with no justifiable work resulting in unproductive expenditure of Rs.52.52 crore.

[Annexure XXX]

4.10.3    Test check of 191 work study reports prepared and accepted by the concerned departments during the period 1999-2000 to 2001-02 was carried out to see the progress of implementation of recommendations. The check revealed the following:

Railway No of staff Period of delay
in re-deployment
Avoidable expenditure
(Rs. in crore)
North Eastern 133 Eight to 15 months 1.69
Eastern 207 Six to 21 months 1.50
South Eastern 104 Five to 25 months 1.30
Western 134 Seven to 15 months 1.05

After acceptance of staff as surplus, 4306 posts were declared as supernumerary. However, there was delay ranging from one to 21 months in declaring such posts as supernumerary resulting in avoidable expenditure of Rs.5.11 crore. The Railways where there was delay in declaring the posts supernumerary resulting in heavy avoidable expenditure of more than one crore during the review period are depicted in the table below:

Railway No of staff Period of delay in declaring
the posts supernumerary
Avoidable expenditure
(Rs. in crore)
Central 670 Three to 13 months 2. 58
Northern 2896 One to 21 months 1.59

The period for which the staff continued to work in supernumerary posts/ waiting for redeployment without any justification ranged from six months to 42 months involving unproductive expenditure of Rs.12.36 crore. The Railways on which the unproductive expenditure of more than Rs.1 crore was incurred are depicted in the following table:

Railway No of staff Period for which posts remained
supernumerary/ waiting
for redeployment
Avoidable expenditure
( Rs. in crore)
Central 670 Six to 42 months 3.47
South Eastern 275 10 to 42 months 6.33
South Central 83 18 to 20 months 1.66
[ Annexure XXXI]

4.10.4    Test check of 56 reports prepared and issued during the period 1999-00 to 2001-02 but not accepted or partially accepted by the concerned department revealed that 5,012 posts were identified as surplus by WSC/ SIU. Out of these recommendations regarding treating 2,393 posts as surplus were not acceptable to the department concerned. The reasons for non- acceptance were stated to be:

There has been delay ranging from two to 41 months in taking decision either to accept the recommendations of the SIUs/ Work Study Cells or to furnish proper justification for continuance of these posts. The avoidable expenditure incurred on this account works out to Rs.49.37 crore. The Railways where the avoidable expenditure of more than one crore has been incurred are depicted in the table below:

Railway No. of posts not
accepted/decision awaited
Period for the which
the posts are under dispute
Avoidable expenditure
(Rs. in crore)
Central 966 10 to 41 months 34.97
Western 554 Seven to 20 months 6.11
Eastern 236 Nine to 25 months 3.51
Southern 173 11 to 27 months 2.16
South Eastern 80 Five to 25 months 1.33
[Annexure XXXII]

4.10.5    During discussion of RITES recommendations on Manpower planning in Mechanical Department in May 1991, Member (Staff) had mentioned that due to closure of various yards, carriage and wagons maintenance staff rendered surplus may be identified and action taken to re-deploy such staff. Audit scrutiny in this regard revealed that:

4.10.6    Due to introduction of electric traction on almost all major routes of the Railways, there has been general shift from Diesel Locomotives to Electric Locomotives. On most of such sections, the Diesel maintenance sheds have been closed or the work load has decreased significantly.

A review of diesel maintenance activity on all the selected Divisions of nine Zonal Railways was carried out and it was found that only two Diesel Sheds - one at Mughalsarai over Lucknow Division of Northern Railway and one at Angul over Khurda Road Division on South Eastern Railways were closed during the year 2001-02 and 2002-03 respectively. On Northern Railway 338 staff was rendered surplus. Out of this 153 staff was deployed after a delay 16 months resulting in avoidable expenditure of Rs.2.58 crore. All the 41 staff rendered as surplus on South Eastern Railway were re-deployed.

4.11    Forecasting of Manpower Requirement

An assessment of future manpower requirements is essential for planning recruitment levels and developing redeployment strategies. In order to use the existing manpower judiciously and take decision regarding recruitment, it is essential that proposals for staff requirement of various activities are prepared well in advance by adopting certain yardsticks/ norms.

A review of records of Zonal Railways conducted in this regard revealed that proposal for future requirements of staff were not prepared annually in advance except for Construction Organisation and Running staff (Guard, Drivers etc.) in open line. The proposals for requirement of staff in all other activities were processed as and when need arose.

4.12    Availability of norms/ yardsticks and their observance

Availability of norms/ yardsticks for deployment of staff in various activities and their correct application is an essential tool for manpower management.

Test check on availability of norms was carried out in three major departments viz. Electrical, Mechanical and Civil Engineering and it was found that:

Micro study regarding observance of norms/yardsticks, manpower planning in three departments was carried and the results are depicted in the following paragraphs.

4.12.1    Mechanical Department

Mechanical department handles three main maintenance activities i.e., carriages, wagons and diesel locomotives maintenance. The deployment of staff in two activities were reviewed with reference to existing norms and the findings are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Carriage Maintenance Activity

Norms for this activity were revised in December 2001 from 3.3 men per coach to 2.4 men per coach for primary maintenance. Test check of 99 Coaching Yards on 20 Divisions of the Zonal Railways except NF Railway revealed that 398 men were deployed in excess of the requirement resulting in extra expenditure of Rs.5.04 crore per annum. Railway wise position of excess deployment is given below:

[Annexure XXXIII]

Diesel Loco Sheds

The Yardstick for maintenance staff in the Diesel Sheds has not been revised since 1979. A review of 27 Diesel Loco Sheds on the Zonal Railways except Northeast Frontier Railway revealed that the operated strength of staff was less than the staff requirement as per norms in all the Diesel sheds except Motibagh-Nagpur on South Eastern Railway where two men were deployed in excess. This would indicate that the norms fixed in 1979 call for downward revision.

[Annexure XXXIV]

4.12.2    Engineering Department

Engineering department (Open Line) is entrusted with maintenance of track, assets related to track and other works, acquisition and management of land and construction and maintenance of buildings and bridges. Audit reviewed the position of staff engaged for maintenance of tracks and the findings are discussed below:

Permanent Gang

Norms for calculation of gang strength for the maintenance of track are specified in the Report of Special Committee (1979) set up for evolving Gang strength Formula for uniform adoption on Indian Railways. Audit review of gang strength calculated as per norms, sanctioned strength and operated strength of gang men revealed the following:

Sanctioned strength was not revised to bring it at par with the requirement as assessed in terms of norms. As a result of this the sanctioned strength of gang men as on 31 March 2003 was more than the required strength on South Eastern (4318), Northern (3433). Western (2944), Eastern (2860), Central (881) and South Central (362) Railways.

While the overall operated strength was less than the required strength as per norms on almost all Railways except on Northern and Western, the operated strength on certain Divisions within the Railways was in excess. There were three Divisions each on Northern and Western, two on Central and one on Eastern Railways, which had excess staff. The excess deployment on Northern (1874), Western (759), Central (648) and Eastern Railway(648) involved extra expenditure of Rs.49.25 crore per annum.

[Annexure XXXV]

A deeper analysis at the level of five sub offices on each of the 19 selected Divisions of the Zonal Railways revealed that out of 95 sub offices test checked, there was excess deployment from one to 188 gang men in 46 sub offices. The total excess deployment in 46 sub offices was of 1830 gang men resulting in extra expenditure of Rs.23.19 crore per annum. The sub-offices where the deployment was more than 25 per cent of the requirement are tabulated below:

Name of Railway Name of Division Name of sub office (Chief
Permanent Way Inspector/
Permanent Way Inspector/
Section Engineer)
Percentage of
excess deployment
Central Nagpur SE, Ajni 37.04
Eastern Asansol Kalipahari
North Eastern Lucknow Badshahnagar 25.34
South Central Secundrabad Belampalli
South Eastern Chakradharpur Manoharpur 37.24
Western Ratlam Nagda
[Annexure XXXVI]

4.12.3    Electrical Department

Electrical department handles maintenance of electric locomotives, over-head equipment, sub-stations and distribution of power supply etc.

(I)    Audit review of manpower for various activities required as per existing norms and actually deployed as on 31 March 2003 revealed that:

[Annexure XXXVII]

(ii)    Norms for maintenance work of AC Coaches do not exist on Zonal Railways except Eastern Railway where 2.1 and 3.57 men per coach per day were prescribed for primary and secondary maintenance respectively. Test check of manpower deployed during March 2003 for AC coach maintenance activity was conducted in 20 yards of nine Zonal Railways applying Eastern Railway's norms and it was found that -

4.13    Rightsizing of manpower through Bench Marking

Benchmarking is a method of determining the minimum manpower per unit of representative workload. A comparison of manpower per unit engaged for similar activities in different Railways and adopting the best figure as a benchmark has been recognised as the best solution for rightsizing manpower. RITES in their report had indicated that there was considerable variation from Railway to Railway in respect of number of track men per Equated Track Kilometre (ETKM) in Civil Engineering department and had recommended for similar comparison in other activities to achieve economy through proper deployment of manpower.

4.13.1    A workshop of Railway Officers was held in May 1991 to discuss the recommendations of RITES and chalk out an action plan. In the Action Plan for Civil Engineering it was agreed that if all Zonal Railways adopted the best figure of track men per ETKM. of South Eastern Railway having 1.68 track men per ETKM (in 1991-92) as against all India average of 2.12 track men per ETKM, there would be saving of about 61,000 employees.

The implementation of this benchmark was reviewed in audit and it was found that:

4.13.2    In the Action Plan (May 1991), Central, Northern and Western Railways, where the deployment of track men was 2.34, 2.45 and 2.69 track men per ETKM respectively, were specifically asked to make in-depth study for identification of surplus labour on P.Way and bring deployment of staff per ETKM to All India level. Audit found that the efforts put forth by these Railways to bring down the manpower deployment to the All India level were not sufficient. The All India average deployment of track men during the year 2002-03 was 1.58 per ETKM and the deployment on Northern (2.15), Central (1.82), and Western (1.72) track men per ETKM continued to be above All India average. The deployment of 1.69 track men per ETKM on Southern Railway was also above All India level. There is scope for reduction of around 20884 track men on these Railways which would result in a saving of Rs.22.04 crore per month.

[Annexure XXXVIII]

4.13.3    Immediate action to initiate similar exercise to right size the manpower in respect of other activities should also have been taken by Railways to bring about parity in deployment of its existing manpower. However, the process was initiated only in August 2000. This exercise is being carried out by Efficiency & Research Directorate on Indian Railways. So far two study reports on Benchmarking have been forwarded for time bound implementation to all Zonal Railways & Production Units by Railway Board in May 2001 and May 2002 covering 12 major activities & five indirect activities respectively. By adopting these benchmarks as a goal to be attained by each activity centre, there is a considerable potential of improving manpower productivity.

The exercise of fixing upper benchmark was to be completed by 30 September 2001. It was also directed that till the above exercise is completed, no fresh induction of staff (including compassionate appointees) was to be made in Divisions/units where the average strength as indicated in the benchmarking report was above the benchmark.

A test check conducted on 19 selected Divisions of Zonal Railways revealed that the exercise of fixing upper benchmark limit in respect of 12 major and five indirect activities in almost all the Divisions has not been completed except on Eastern and Western Railways. Eastern and Western Railways have completed the exercise of fixing upper benchmark for ten out of 12 major activities. The two remaining activities were in respect of Buildings and Bridges. Western Railway completed the exercise in respect three out of five indirect activities.

4.14    Manpower assessment for Workshops

4.14.1    Railway Administration has invested huge amounts in modernisation of workshops with a view to increase productivity in workshops and large number of semi-skilled trades have been reclassified as skilled to increase the availability of skilled workforce. These developments have a direct impact on the productivity and allowed time for various jobs in workshops. Due to revision in allowed time and closure of certain activities, the staff have become surplus. Test check was conducted in 26 workshops on nine Zonal Railways to find out the impact of modernisation and action taken by Railways to reduce the staff. The findings are given below:

[Annexure XXXIX]

4.14.2    Manpower requirement of various activities in a Workshop is dependent on the target set for production of various items. Non-achievement of targets would thus indicate idling of manpower. Test check of certain shops engaged in various activities in the 26 Workshops of nine Zonal Railways was conducted for the year 2001-02 to 2002-03 to compare the manpower deployed, targets set for the year and actual outturn. The test check revealed that the shortfall in achieving the targets ranged from 2.42 per cent to 89.33 per cent. Based on the actual outturn, the manpower deployment in the shops test checked was in excess by 5,215 on all Railways during the year 2001-02 and 3,459 during the year 2002-03 resulting in extra expenditure of Rs.66.05 crore and 43.80 crores respectively. The Railway-wise position is tabulated below:

Railway No. of excess staff Extra Expenditure (In crore rupees)
2001-02 2002-03 Total 2001-02 2002-03 Total
CR 506 328 834 6.40 4.15 10.55
ER 3456 2428 7884 43.77 30.75 74.52
NR 100 75 175 1.27 0.95 2.22
NF 644 131 775 8.16 1.66 9.82
SR 344 233 577 4.36 2.95 7.31
SC 128 255 383 1.62 3.23 4.85
SE 25 9 34 0.32 0.11 0.43
WR 12 - 12 0.15 0.00 0.15
TOTAL       66.05 43.80 109.85
[Annexure XL(i)&(ii)]

4.15    Manpower planning for Construction Organisation

Each Zonal Railway has a Construction Organisation headed by Chief Administrative Officers. The main functions of this organisation are construction of new lines, bridges etc. Assessment of manpower requirement for the construction organisation is generally done on the basis of the provision in the estimates relating to the works to be executed by this organisation. All the posts thus created are called 'Work charged posts'.

4.15.1    Creation & Extension of currency of Gazetted Posts

For every financial year yardstick for the creation/ extension of Gazetted staff for construction project is fixed by the Railway Board. According to these yardsticks, proposals for creation/ extension of number of gazetted posts are sent by the concerned executives departments to FA&CAO (C) for concurrence. The proposal shows the details of the outlay for the year in respect of the works to be executed by the concerned department and also gives the list of the works where provision for the proposed staff exist. These Proposals are scrutinised by the Accounts department after verifying all the facts & figures and the vetted proposals are sent back to the concerned department to take the sanction of the competent authority. Proposals for creation/extension of SAG level posts are required to be sanctioned by Railway Board. Other proposals of Gazetted staff are sanctioned by the CAO (C).

The yardsticks for creation of posts for the year 2000-01 prescribed by Railway Board stipulate that in Civil, Electrical and S&T Departments the total number of posts in Junior Scale/ Class II and Senior Scale posts should be determined by taking these posts together and not separately. It was also stipulated that the number of posts in Senior Scale should be kept at about one half of the Junior Scale posts. The formula to calculate the posts in these categories was that the number of posts in Junior Scale multiplied by the monetary yardstick per post plus the number of posts in Senior Scale multiplied by the yardstick per post should equal to the total outlay. From the year 2001-02 onward a further cut of ten per cent was to be applied on the posts calculated as per above formula.

Audit review of the creation and operation of the Gazetted posts for the year 2001-02 to 2002-03 in Civil and Electrical Departments was carried out and findings are discussed in the following paragraphs:

Civil Engineering

Test check of posts required on the basis of prescribed norms revealed that:

[Annexure XLI (i)]

Electrical Department

Test check of posts required as per norms and actually operated reveal that:

[Annexure XLI(ii)]

4.15.2    Delay in redeployment/non-deployment of staff

As soon as the work on a sanctioned project is near completion, the Railway Administration should take immediate action for assessing the further requirement of staff and the staff that is not required should be re-deployed elsewhere. Audit review the position of staff management on the works/project which were completed or were near completion and found that -

4.16    Bungalow Peons

Bungalow Peons are provided at the residences of the certain officers who, by the nature of their duties, were called upon to be available round the clock to attend to emergencies such as interruption to traffic, accidents, mishaps, agitation & other operational problems which needed immediate attention, and in discharging these functions the assistance of the bungalow peons was needed. In terms of Board's criteria fixed in 1956, General Managers were entitled for two bungalow peons and other Administrative Officers one each provided the nature of their duties justify the sanctioning of bungalow peon.

The third pay commission recommended (March 1973) that "the system of providing peons at the residences of certain categories of officers is an anachronism and should be done away with". In December 1974, a committee appointed by the Board recommended that only General Manager, Head of Departments & Secretary to General Managers may be allowed bungalow peons and no officer of Stores, Accounts, Vigilance, Medical, Civil Engineering & Personnel Departments in the Divisions & Headquarters (except Head of Departments) should be allowed bungalow peons. After considering these recommedations, Railway Board referred (January 1978) them to the General Managers for their views in. The General Managers favoured continuance of the existing provision of bungalow peons.

A comment regarding continuous unjustified engagement of peons at the residences of various officers despite availability of advanced communication network was made in the Report of Comptroller & Auditor General of India- Union Government (Railways) for the year 1989-90. Consequently Railway Board had felt the need for review of posts of bungalow peons attached to officers lower than Administrative Grade and instructed Zonal Railways to make critical review immediately.

Audit review of engagement of bungalow peons during the period 1998-99 to 2002-03 revealed that:

4.17    Reorganisation of Zonal Railways

Railway Board issued a notification on 14 June 2002 for creation of North Western Railway (NWR) and East Central Railway (ECR) with effect from 1 October 2002. NWR has been created by carving out certain divisions of Northern and Western Railways and ECR by carving out certain divisions of North Eastern and Eastern Railway. Another notification has been issued on 4 July 2002 for creation of East Coast Railway, South Western Railway, West Central Railway, North Central Railway & South East Central Railway with effect from 1 April 2003. Due to this reorganisation, posts and personnel were transferred from the existing zones to the newly created zones.

A review was conducted in Audit on Eastern, Northern, North Eastern and Western Railways to see whether the posts identified for transfer to new Zonal Railways, which came into being from 1 October 2002, were actually transferred. The findings are as follows:

From the above it is evident that excess staff remain on Eastern, North Eastern, Northern and Western Railways without any justified work. Since the transfer of Group B, C & D staff has been done on the basis of options and number of staff willing to move to new Zonal Railways is less, Indian Railway is now facing a situation of lop-sided distribution of manpower in various Zonal Railways throwing the whole exercise of manpower planning discussed in the earlier part of the review into disarray. The Railways should have sorted out the matter regarding manpower deployment before embarking on the reorganisation of the Zonal Railways.

4.18    Conclusion

Indian Railways had recognised the importance of manpower planning more than a decade ago when RITES was appointed to undertake a diagnostic study to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its manpower existing at that time. The Railways have brought down the manpower strength from 16.52 lakh in 1991 to 15.11 lakhs as on 31 March 2002 but the reduction is not enough if one consider the changes in operational technologies in Indian Railway by way of modernisation, computerisation and mechanisation of track maitenance. Audit review has revealed that 5,921 posts identified as surplus in work studies conducted during the review period continue to be operated. Several other areas were also noticed by Audit where surrender of staff is warranted. Benchmarking, which has been recognised as an effective method of rightsizing, has been implemented in a very tardy fashion. Efforts to reduce the manpower strength by way of restricting intake has also not been very effective. The intake through compassionate appointments has been heavy and an anachronistic practice of engaging bungalow peons continues. The re-organisation of Zonal Railways in likely to prove a big setback in the Railway's efforts to rightsize manpower.