While there are guidelines in place for compassionate ground appointments (CGA), Southern Railways has discovered several instances of non-compliance. These jobs are offered to the immediate family members of railway staff who have died on duty, without putting them through the regular/formal recruitment process.
The said jobs on CGA can only be offered to the spouse of the deceased employee or the children, whether step-children or adopted ones. The provision has been put in place to ensure that the family of the deceased doesn’t have to face financial misery due to the death of the railway employee. These jobs are offered on the discretion of the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM).
It has been reported that in the Chennai division alone, about 1,350 employees died during the period 2010–2018. Only about 900 wards were offered CGA. There is no cap on the number of CGAs in the Railways, whereas other central government departments do have a cap. Southern Railway handles over a hundred applications of CGA annually, of which many are rejected on the basis of false documents. Often, more than one application is received from the same family, with different dates and sometimes even with different locations of death!
Several cases have come to light wherein the CGA has been offered to families who do not really require the same as they are not in dire straits financially.
There have been formal investigations ordered into several cases by the DRM, and the ensuing rejections have been opposed by the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU). Some applications have been rightly rejected because the spouse of the deceased is a state government employee with a significant monthly income, and also received about Rs 30 lakhs from the Railways by way of various settlements. However, the family’s argument was that their financial condition was not very good because the children were undergoing expensive medical and engineering courses abroad! The concerned family’s application was of course denied.
There have also been cases of two applications from the deceased person’s family, from the children of two spouses. Such situations result in conflict. Cases have come to light wherein the general manager has even overturned a case that has been rejected by the DRM. There are even instances of the GM reviewing and reconsidering his own rejected order based on the request of the Union.
Looks like it is time for the railways vigilance department to intervene and ensure that such irregularities are done away with.