peons will continue in Railways, albeit in a new avatar, according to a fresh order issued by the Railway ministry on Monday.
After reviewing the 100-year old practice, the Railway Board has decided that while fresh bungalow peons, usually engaged by officers as per their wishes, will not be recruited, the ones working will continue to work at officers’ homes and vacant posts of bungalow peons will be filled from the existing pool.
Top sources explained to The Indian Express that the order makes it possible for officers to select bungalow peons from Group D staff recruited by Railways, subject to consent of the staff concerned. “Only thing that changes is that earlier we were allowed to take just about anyone. That may not happen,” said a source.
“Such posts may be filled from substitute TADKs available in Indian Railways. Alternatively, these posts may also be filled by regular employees, from any unit in Indian Railways. Subject to willingness of the employee and the officer concerned. The lien and seniority of the above employees shall be protected in their parent cadre,” the order says.
The order, issued after a three-member committee of officers advocated retaining the facility for railway officers, gives zonal railway General Managers powers to decide what to do with vacant posts of the bungalow peons, formally known as Telephone Attendant cum Dak Khalasis (TADK). The order says if any Group D staff is willing to work as TADK, it may be allowed.
The order makes it clear that existing posts of incumbent TADKs will continue and their employment will be governed by existing rules.
The Railway Board stopped recruitment of fresh bungalow peons August 6 this year and officers were told that a new recruitment policy in this regard would be rolled out.
Bungalow peon is a sensitive subject for railway officers. Almost no one wants to give up the facility arguing that it is intrinsic to the nature of their job. Railway officers, like their counterparts in the Army, are entitled to a Group D employee posted 24X7 at their homes. The logic is that railway officers may get posted in remote, often inhospitable, locations and are used to taking work home or being held up at work at odd hours. In such a scenario, extending the help of an employee to his home, officers argue, is necessary. “That is why this practice has been there since the beginning,” said a senior officer.
As Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad had extended the facility to officers posted in Railway Board.
In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged Railways to consider abolishing the practice in favour of officers taking an allowance. Thereafter, a committee was formed to work out a way forward.
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