| New Delhi |
Published: August 8, 2020 6:22:17 am
The Railway Ministry has decided to revise the recruitment process of Telephone Attendant cum Dak Khalasis (TADKs), also called “bungalow peons”. The decision comes two days after the Railway Board took up the issue of reviewing the over 100-year-old practice of its officers legally keeping bungalow peons at their residences.
The TADKs are Group D staff who get absorbed in government service after three years of working in officers’ homes.
Two weeks ago, a nine-member committee of Executive Directors unanimously endorsed the retention of the present system, sources said.
The Federation of Railway Officers’ Association (FROA), after meeting Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday night, had apprised its officers that the minister purportedly told them that the current selection process of bungalow peons would be recast completely. “However, the choice of selection of personnel was questioned and details will be worked out for methodology to work out providing bungalow peons,” the FROA said in its summary of its meeting with the minister.
The Railway Ministry had sought details of TADK appointments in the past one month. The matter was listed as an agenda item in the Railway Board’s meeting for this week, which had to be rescheduled. On Thursday, it sent out letters, asking its zonal railways not to process fresh TADK appointments as the issue regarding the appointments was “under review”.
On Friday, officers associations of all zonal railways wrote to the Railway Ministry in protest against any move to end the system. They said that this is a necessity for Railways officers who are used to working 24×7 and be posted in remote locations as well — unlike other central service officers. It was highlighted that the matter was discussed even by the Seventh Pay Commission and it remained silent on this issue, leaving it to the Railways.
Over the years, there have been different allegations against many officers of mistreating the bungalow peons — salaries being withheld, no holidays being granted, 18-hour days, use of abusive language and even manhandling.
Six years ago, the Prime Minister’s Office had asked the Railways to consider ending the British-era practice and had asked officers to take an allowance instead. Following that, the nine-member committee had been formed.
“Action should be taken against officers who mistreat their TADKs. But that does not mean the whole system should be abolished for everybody. We can work out ways to revise the recruitment process,” said an officer.
Previous Railways ministers had made changes to the system —Mamata Banerjee had lowered the minimum qualification for TADKs from Class X to VIII, while Lalu Prasad had extended the facility to officers posted in the Railway Board.
The Central Administrative Tribunal, in a recent judgement, had questioned the way TADKs were appointed in Railways.
In the prevailing controversy, government orders of Tamil Nadu government are also doing the rounds, wherein retired Chief Secretaries and Additional Chief Secretaries are given an allowance of Rs 10,000 per month to keep household help as post-retirement benefits. A similar system is there for retired senior officials in Karnataka as well.
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