Feb 4, 2014

GOOD News - Prime Minister Approves Composition of 7th Central Pay Commission of committee

Prime Minister Approves Composition of 7th Central Pay Commission Under the Chairmanship of Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur, Retired Judge of the Supreme Court and Retired Chairman, Armed Forces Tribunal

The Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram has issued the following statement:

           “The Prime Minister has approved the composition of the 7th Central Pay Commission as follows:

1.         Shri Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur                            -                          Chairman           
            (Retired Judge of the Supreme Court and Retired
            Chairman, Armed Forces Tribunal)

2.         Shri Vivek Rae                                                             -                        Member (Full Time)
            (Secretary, Petroleum & Natural Gas)

3.         Dr. Rathin Roy                                                             -                        Member (Part Time)
            (Director, NIPFP)

4.         Smt. Meena Agarwal                                                   -                          Secretary
            (OSD, Department of Expenditure,
            Ministry of Finance)

Source - PIB

NHRC issues notice to Railway Ministry

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the railway ministry on the toilet system in trains that leads to open defecation, a petitioner said Monday. 

Acting on a complaint of Odisha-based activist Akhand, the commission has directed the railway board chairman to file a report within four weeks. 

"The toilets in trains contribute to a major chunk of open defecation which litters on railway tracks," Akhand told a news agency.

Indian Railways daily runs 8,700 trains, reaching 7,000 stations and handling 2.5 crore of passengers per day, thereby adding to the open defecation menace. 

"The existing toilet system in the coaches discharges excreta directly to the ground and the railway tracks. The consequences include unacceptable hygienic conditions, particularly at railway stations," he said. 

"Due to open defecation there are high risks of water-borne or sanitation-related diseases," alleged Akhand. 

The petitioner urged the rights panel to issue the order to the ministry to install bio-toilets or any other advanced systems in trains to avoid open defecation.
Source..zee news

Railway unions to launch nationwide strike in March

NEW DELHI: The UPA government could be staring at another crisis with two leading railways unions set to go on an indefinite nationwide strike in March after a majority of employees affiliated with them voted in favour of stopping work to push long-pending demands, such as scrapping new-pension scheme, end to hiring of contractual labour and outsourcing of jobs.

If the two unions indeed go ahead with the plan, it will be the first major strike in railways after the one in 1974 led by George Fernandes. That strike was crushed by the Indira Gandhi government, leading to widespread victimization and thousands losing their jobs.

One of the two unions -- All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) -- has called a meeting of its general council on February 17 while the other -- National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) - will meeting on February 12 to decide on going on strike if the government and railways fail to meet their demands.

The unions are under pressure after more than 95% of workers associated with them voted for a strike in the secret ballot.

As a day of strike would cost railways around Rs 800 crore, the unions are in favour of a negotiated settlement. The railways is the largest employer in the country with over 13 lakh people on its rolls and moves more than 2.2 crore people and two million tonnes of cargo every day.

AIRF general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra told TOI that hectic negotiations with railway board were on.

Mishra said while the railways was serious about employees' demands, finance ministry and government seemed to be reluctant.

While the demands include removing anomalies in the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation, sanction of addition posts in commensurate with additional workload and stopping of outsourcing of perennial jobs, the contentious demands are scrapping new pension scheme and stopping outsourcing and privatization.

NFIR had already written to the prime minister, finance minister, labour minister and railways to press for their demands before the coming vote on account in February.

"We are hoping that government will meet our demand before February 12 as there would be few cabinet meetings in this period," said a NFIR spokesperson.

As strikes cause a huge disruption to the economy, Mishra said a decision to go on strike is tough, which is why the union decided to go for a ballot. "Nothing is better than negotiated settlement. We are going to general council meeting with open mind. We would go on strike if left with no other option is left," he said.

The timing of the strike call is significant as unions are aware that UPA government would be under pressure with 2014 Lok Sabha polls are only few months away.

Since 1974, there have been two strike ballots, but no strikes. The strike ballot was held in 2006 demanding constitution of the Sixth Pay Commission. The issue was resolved after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Pay Commission.
Source..times of india

Palakkad railway division revenue up despite fewer passengers

The HinduRailway officials attribute the result to increase in passenger fares and freight charges.

Though about 40 lakh commuters ditched railways in Palakkad division in April-December period of 2013, it has managed to earn more than the previous year – both in terms of goods and passenger revenue. The Railways had hiked the passenger fares and freight charges were increased by about 2 per cent on October 7, 2013 after the 10 to 20 per passenger fare hike effected on January 21.

A source in the Railways attributed both the fall in commuter traffic and earning from the passenger fares to the fare hike. Short distance travelers are said to have shifted to buses.

The earnings from passenger fare increased to Rs. 405.17 crore registering a 21.54 per cent increase in the nine-month period. The goods traffic earnings - at Rs.317.73 crores - soared up by 14.89 per cent compared with the last year’s performance.

The division raised a total of Rs. 765.40 crore during the fist nine months of this financial year registering a 18.78 per cent over the earning for the corresponding figures of the previous year. Yet, it fell short of the target of Rs.780.60 crore. This was said in a press release issued by the division on Monday quoting the Republic Day speech of Divisional Railway Manager Anand Prakash on Sunday.

The number of passengers carried in the nine months has however gone down to 5.84 crore compared to 6.22 crore passengers in the first nine months of 2012-13. It means that about 38 lakh commuters ditched the Railways in the division “enhanced and sustained efforts will have to be made to regain our lost passenger traffic by …improving our services leading to enhanced passenger satisfaction,” the DRM said.

The release quoting him said passenger trains’ punctuality was 96.8 per cent in the period which was comparable to average punctuality of passenger trains in Southern Railway.

Electrification soon

It said the second phase of Rail Electrification in Kannur-Mangalore section would be taken up after the remaining part of the work between Kozhikode and Kannur is completed by March 2015. The Shoranur Junction – Kannur electrification was making substantial progress and 86 km of Shoranur–Kozhikode electrification would be commissioned shortly.

It said 9,215 anti-social elements were prosecuted while Mobile Court on-board train has been launched between Kozhikode and Manjeswara stations, the release added.
Source..the hindu

Chinese investment fear haunts Indian Railways FDI plan

The Union Home Ministry and the Department of Economic Affairs have cautioned the government regarding relaxing the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms in the Indian Railways.

In its comment on the proposal of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the home ministry, citing security concerns, said Chinese investments in such a sensitive sector should be viewed with caution.

The home ministry has pointed out that China is India's main rival on the economic front and the two countries have unresolved border disputes. Sources said keeping this in mind FDI from the neighbouring country in a core sector, like the railways, may pose a danger to national security. The ministry also clearly stated that Chinese investments should not be allowed in border areas such as Jammu & Kashmir and the North Eastern states.

The concerns from the two key ministries come at a time when there is already a divided house in the Rail Ministry over introducing FDI in the country's largest transport network.

The issue also came up for discussion during a General Managers' conference last month. Though the ministers seemed to be pressing for FDI in railways, the proposal did not garner much support from the Railway Unions that represent lakhs of employees at the lower level. In fact, some railway union leaders are of the view that FDI will lead railways into privatisation mode which will rob the system of its core objective- of being the most economic mode of transport in the country. Sources said there are even discussions over calling a strike to protest against FDI in railways.

Meanwhile, top government sources said that the MHA suggested the DIPP and the Ministry of Railways to set up a core group with technical and security experts to evaluate proposals in the sector. The Department of Economic Affairs has stated that the railway ministry should keep in mind the strategic and security sensitivity of remote locations while framing specific projects in those areas.

Mail Today had reported this issue in detail last Monday when Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury said, "The opposition to FDI is unreasonable given railways' current financial condition. We already have Public-Private Partnerships going on for a lot of our projects. We need money and FDI looks like the only way out to carry out projects which need at least 4.5 lakh crore investment."

The DIPP has circulated a final note for consideration of the Cabinet to allow FDI in suburban corridors, high-speed tracks and freight lines connecting ports, mines and power installations.

"It's too early to comment as things will shape up only post 2014 general elections," a senior board official said.
Source..india today





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