Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mamata announces a slew of welfare measures for railway employees; should civil servants expect sops from Mukherjee on Monday?

THE 1.4 million-strong railway brigade across the country has reasons to cheer after railway minister Mamata Banerjee announced a number of sops to railway employees in her Rail Budget presented in Lok Sabha on Friday. Before coming to what finance minister Pranab Mukherjee can do for government employees including officials during the General Budget to be presented on Monday, let’s list some of welfare measures announced by the railway minister for railway employees. a) The contribution of Staff Benefit Fund would be enhanced to Rs 350 per railway employee by one year. According to the announcement in Rail Budget, out of this contribution, a sum of Rs 100 per employee will be used exclusively for activities relating to women empowerment. This would also include the provision for vocational and occupational skill development training for physically and mentally challenged wards of railway employees, especially the girl child and higher education for girls. b) Ms Banerjee also announced the proposal to construct 6560 staff quarters during the year 2009-10. A thrust would be given under the Corporate Welfare Plan for improvement of staff quarters and colonies. The Budget also proposes to set up indoor stadia in major railway divisions and zones to promote sports and cultural activities amongst the railway employees. Scholarship for higher education of girl children of Group D staff will be launched. Seven nursing colleges on railway land in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai (Kalyan), Chennai, Secunderabad, Lucknow and Jabalpur will be opened on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. The Budget also envisages to establish medical colleges attached to existing railway hospitals through PPP mode to give higher education facilities to the wards of railway employees. The locations where such colleges are planned include: Chennai, Hyderabad, Bilaspur, Lucknow, Barasat, Bhubaneswar, Mysore, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Jodhpur, Gardenreach, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, B.R. Singh Hospital, Bhopal, Jammu and Trivandrum. It was also announced that the General Managers would be empowered to sanction cases upto Rs 4 lakh for special medical treatment of railway persons. The Budget also provides for construction of dormitories for ladies and gents who accompany the patients at 16 hospitals having 150 beds and above. Burn Units will be provided at major railway hospitals of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Secunderabad, Bangalore and B R Singh Hospital, Kolkata.
Mukherjee on Monday: What Babus should expect from General Budget? No major initiative is expected to be announced in the Budget which will have a direct impact on civil servants except finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s direct tax sops would make bureaucrats happy as well. The possible raising of the income tax slabs or restoration of standard deduction would help the bureaucrats as well to save some hard cash.