Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Indian Railways till date has been the biggest job sector in India, which fulfils the hopes of lakhs of aspiring candidates. In a latest development, the Indian Railways has opened the doors for contractual engagement in certain categories against existing vacancies to tide over shortage of staff in some key areas, to avoid the time-consuming railway recruitment board route.

Besides, it has also decided to engage retired staff for preserving and reviving railway heritage properties such as steam locomotives, vintage coaches and signals, among others.

“They have the experience to repair and maintain railway heritage and can also act as coaches for the younger generation. It is not an easy task to keep, say a clock - which is 150 years old - ticking even after all these years. The old hands have that expertise,” a senior railway official said.

Zonal heads are being empowered to engage retired employees having adequate skills for consulting and guiding the process of revival and preservation of heritage items.

To mitigate problems arising out of acute shortage of stenographers/PAs affecting efficient functioning of offices, the railways have allowed hiring of data entry operators or executive assistant against an existing vacancy of stenographer on contractual basis, according to the latest Railways order.

"Zonal heads have been authorised to finalise the number of persons to be hired against such vacancies in consultation with concerned departments and the proposed remuneration shall be commensurate with the general work schedule of such hired personnel," the official said.

The upper age limit for engagement of retired railway staff is 65 years. Earlier, the railways had decided to re-hire retired staff at unmanned level crossings.

Considered to be part of the reform measures being undertaken to improve functioning in the public sector behemoth, a series of steps is under active considerations to unfold in near future. However, it may be noted that the move of the Indian Railways for contractual engagement in certain categories is just to tide over shortage of staff, and there is no confirmation on closing of doors for railway recruitment board.