Archive for October, 2010



An employee becomes eligible for gratuity on the termination of his employment after he has rendered continuous service for not less than five years, according to Section 4(1) of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. He is also entitled for interest on the gratuity in terms of Section 7(3) and 7(3A).
Making these clear, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed the Arumuganeri Salt Workers Co-operative Production and Sale Society Ltd, Thoothukkudi district, to pay the amount to its worker, Mr A. Rajan, within 30 days from date of receipt of a copy of this order without further driving him to any other forum.
Mr Justice K. Chandru, hearing a writ petition from the Society challenging the order dated January 27, 2009 of the Appellate Authority under the Act, Madurai (R-2), directing it to make interest payment if gratuity was not paid within 30 days from the date of his order, noted that from the beginning, it was the stand of the petitioner Society that R-1 (Mr A. Rajan) was not eligible for gratuity. If Sections 7(3) and 7(3A) were read together, then there was no difficulty in understanding the eligibility for receiving interest.
In the present case, the Appellate Authority had correctly construed the legal provisions and there was no case made out to interfere with the interpretation placed by the Authority. The petitioner contended that payment of interest would arise only when there was delayed payment, and in this case, there was no delay since they had paid gratuity as ordered by R-2, and hence the question of payment of interest would not arise.
This Court was unable to accept the said statement, since the entire controversy was with regard to the legal provision. Reading Section 4(1) of the Act it would be clear that the date relevant for determination of interest was the date on which gratuity became payable, which in the present case was when R-1 resigned his job on 1-6-2003. When R-1 issued notice for payment of gratuity, petitioner employer did not honour the notice. On the contrary, it was only when R-1 instituted a claim before the Controlling Authority, the petitioner contended about the irregular nature of his employment and his alleged disqualification from receiving gratuity. In the light of these, the writ petition stood dismissed, the Judge held.

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EMPLOYEES PROVIDENT FUND ORGANIZATION (EPFO) decides to stick to debt, won’t invest in equity

EMPLOYEES PROVIDENT FUND ORGANIZATION (EPFO) decides to stick to debt, won’t invest in equity

The provident fund deducted from one’s salary every month can give higher returns if fund managers invested the corpus in equity, many employees would argue.

But the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) finds the capital markets too risky to invest in.

“We have decided not to invest in capital markets,” Samirendra Chatterjee, the central provident fund commissioner, said at a seminar in Mumbai.

The EPFO will continue to invest in state development loans, bonds of AAA-rated companies and PSUs, he said.

Chatterjee emphasized that taking risks for higher returns was not a viable option for the EPFO.

“We get around 20,000 settlement applications every day… For us return of capital is more important than return on capital,” he said.

“If they (the finance ministry, which has been seeking that the EPFO invest as much as 15% of its funds in the stock market) want us to invest, please give us a guarantee for the same, we will invest,” he added.

Recently, the payout rate on provident fund was revised to 9.5% for the current financial year, up from 8.5% in the last five years.

“None of the recognized provident funds has approached us so far with a complaint that they cannot manage 9.5% rate of return for this fiscal,” said Chatterjee.

In fact, a survey has found that more than 300 exempted funds have enough surplus, which can be used to declare extra dividend this year, he said. “However, it cannot be used to make good any bad investment by the fund manager.”

Chatterjee clarified that the entire 9.5% return on provident fund will be tax-free. “We had a talk with the ministry and will get the notification soon,” he said.

But this increased rate of return is only applicable for the current financial year. Next year, unless a new interest rate is announced, the default interest rate will be 8.5%.

There are two types of provident funds exempted funds, which are managed in-house and un-exempted, which are managed by the EPFO. Funds under the management of the EPFO have reached Rs3.25 lakh crore currently from Rs3 lakh crore in March, 2010.

Source: Daily News & Analysis

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AIRF opposed for Continuous evaluation of trainees during the course of the training programmes/ Refresher Courses

No.AIRF/(MPP)                                                    Dated: October 26, 2010

The Secretary(E),

Railway Board,

New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Sub: Continuous evaluation of trainees during the course of the training programmes

   Ref: Board’s letter No.E(MPP)2010/3/32 dated 19.7.2010

              It is a matter of great surprise that the Railway Board have proposed to introduce the scheme of Continuous evaluation of trainees during the course of the training programmes without any consultation with the organized labour.

             In this connection, attention of the Board is invited towards the demand raised by AIRF in DC/JCM Forum to liberalize the scheme in such a way that there should not be any written exam at the end of Refresher Courses. On the contrary, the proposed scheme envisages weekly evaluation through written, oral or practical test, which in our opinion shall be quite difficult practice and detrimental to the interests of the trainees as well.

           The Board are aware that because of already existing complicacies in the Training Modules of different courses, most of the Railway employees avoid to undergo training which in lieu of imparting knowledge puts the trainees under undue burden of exams and exertion. This also gives rise to malpractices during the training programme.

            In view of the above, the Federation had demanded to liberalize the training programmes in such a way that written examinations are done away with at least in Refresher Courses and the Training Modules are designed in such a way that the same are attractive and practical knowledge based for the Railway employees so that the staff happily joins these training programmes rather than avoiding it.

            It appears that the proposed scheme in place of liberalizing training programmes has altogether de-liberalized it and has stepped forward to suggest amendment in IREM also, which is highly unfair and AIRF strongly opposes its implementation.

             It may also be recalled that after regular persuasions with the Board, the Federation had succeeded to eliminate written examination in selections for promotion to a Selection Post, and in case the present scheme of continuous evaluation is introduced, the same would totally spoil the entire settlement.

             AIRF is therefore, totally against implementation of such a retrograde scheme and wish to forewarn that implementation of the scheme will lead to massive agitation and suggests not to think of such scheme. In case Railway administration wishes to discuss some betterment in the training programme, the Federation is always ready to discuss it with open mind. However, such proposals not only give surprise but also a lot of distress and some times we feel pity on the wisdom of those who have made such proposals.

Yours faithfully,

(Shiva Gopal Mishra)

General Secretary

Copy to: Jt. Director, Estt.(IR), Railway Board, New Delhi – for information. Copy to: General Secretaries, all affiliated unions, along with a copy of above-cited Scheme, for their comments/views.

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Review of the Driver/Guard’s Line Box

No.AIRF/60(Sub-committee)                    Dated: October 21, 2010

The Secretary (E),

Railway Board,

New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Sub: Review of the Driver/Guard’s Line Box

Ref: Director, Mech. Engg.(Traction), Railway Board’s letter No.2009/M(L)/467/1

dated 26.8.2010

The proposal of the Railway Board to replace Driver/Guard’s Line Box with Bag/Briefcase is not acceptable to AIRF on the following grounds:-

(i) In many places, especially in respect of working of Goods Trains, “handing over” and “taking over” takes place in Traffic Yards and somewhere. There may be crossing of 3/4 or even more occupied lines and no regular pathway is provided.

(ii) Handing over and taken over goods train is generally done in yard. In most of the yards, even two wheeler vehicles cannot move. Sometimes Guards are to cross one or two trains laying in the yard to pick-up his own schedule train. It is quite impossible to carry with about 15 kg weights to pick-up train after picking up document from SM/YM’s office after signing on duty. At some places, taking over point is located at a far off distance from “signing on” point and Driver/Guard will have to carry the equipment on his shoulder.

(iii) Quarters and Running Rooms are not provided just adjacent to the “Taking Over” and “Making Over” points or even stations in case of Passenger, Mail and Express trains.

(iv) In torrential rain and biting winter and scorching sun, it is quite possible to carry such heavy luggage from quarter/home/running room and vice versa.

(v) In terrorist infested area, like N.E. Region, carrying detonator in Open Street is not permitted. This will be a matter of harassment on way by the Police and Paramilitary forces.

(vi) One is not supposed to carry his official equipments from his house/from a point to another on his shoulder, especially when there is considerable distance.

(vii) For carrying files, Bungalow Peons are engaged for JA and above grade officers, why a fairly senior group `C’ staff shall carry such load of about 15 kg all the way from his quarter/home/running room.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that AIRF had taken-up the issue with the Railway Board vide PNM Item No.39/2003, wherein it was agreed that the system of transportation of drivers personal store may be decided by General Manager of Zonal Railways in consultation with recognized unions. The proposal, if implemented unilaterally, will have psychological and mental impacts on the Drivers/Guards, being not liked by them. Running staff are very much against this proposal of the Railway Board, and if given shape, it will be resisted by them.

In this context, is also pertinent to mention that –

(i) Driver/Guard Box is kept in a cubical provided on the platform and as per revised procedure, he has to carry box to his home/running room. He has also carries his own clothes, shoes etc. including his own ration for cooking, tiffin carrier, water bottle (while going outstation).

(ii) These along with Briefcase shall weight more than 15 kg. It is not possible him to carry 15 kg to his quarter/home/running room and vice versa.

(iii) While checking train at the originating station, especially at an intermediate station where TXR is not provided, the Box Porter will have to lift heavy bag on his shoulder.

(iv) Driver/Guard will be compelled to carry such a heavy load while performing their duties. AIRF, therefore, does not agree to the proposal of the Railway Board to replace line Box of Loco Pilot/Guard as well as surrendering of posts of Box Porter.

Yours faithfully,

(Shiva Gopal Mishra)

General Secretary

Copy to: General Secretary, N.F.I.R., 3 Chelmsford Road, New Delhi – for information.

Copy to: General Secretaries, all affiliated zonal unions – for information.

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Info on International Union of Railways Conference (UIC)

Info on International Union of Railways Conference (UIC)

A two day UIC (International Union of Railways) Conference on Security Challenges and High Speed Development was inaugurated on Wednesday, 20/10/2010 by Shri Vivek Sahai, Chairman, Railway Board, Ministry of Railways in Mumbai. About 150 delegates from all over the world including countries like Japan, France, Germany, Spain, United States and China, etc., are participating in this conference.

In his keynote address, Shri Vivek Sahai said that the High Speed should be tailor made for India. He emphasized that High Speed trains should cater to the needs of the Indian cities. He said that it can be very useful for our country if it is customized to Indian environment. Mr. Sahai further suggested out that the metro transport can be classified into three groups, i.e. upto 500kms, 500-1500kms and above 1500kms. Emphasizing on the large volume of passengers served by the Indian Railways, Mr. Sahai urged the experts and representatives that High Speed developments should take care of lower Income group passengers. Envisaging the future growth, Shri Sahai said that urbanization of India will be over 40% by 2020 resulting in expansion of large number of cities. Therefore, there will be greater need of High Speed Metro transport. He said that such projects should be funded jointly by the private partners, State and Central Governments.

Talking about security challenges, Shri Sahai said that security arrangements should be non-intrusive, especially at stations where the volume of passengers is very large. He also mentioned the Raman effect, invented by famous Indian Noble Laureate, Dr. C. V. Raman for using molecular signature for explosives/ contraband.

Earlier, welcoming the guests, Shri R. N. Verma, General Manager, Western Railway emphasized the need of connecting satellite cities so that the land rent and population pressure in Metros like Mumbai can be distributed evenly. He also emphasized the need to have High Speed and secure travel for the historic and vibrant city of Mumbai. He said that High Speed trains will be preferable/ viable compared to the other modes of transport like Highways or air travel if we incorporate social, economic and environmental benefits. He stated that High Speed Models should be economical for the benefit of all categories of passengers. Shri Verma emphasized on having fullproof and guaranteed security solutions as Metros like Mumbai are vulnerable to terror attacks.

Mr. Jean Pierre Loubinox, Director General of UIC also addressed the inaugural session while Mr. Jacques Colliard, Head of Security Division of UIC and Mr. Inaki Barron, Director of Passengers and High Speed Departments of UIC brought out the seminar outline.

The opening Session was followed by four sessions in which eminent experts from USA, India, China, France, Spain, Korea, etc., made presentations. Among them Shri S. K. Jain, Chief Administration Officer (Construction), Western Railway made presentation on Upgradation of Speeds in Indian Railways. Shri K. K. Atal, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Western Railway made presentation on Rolling stock issues for High Speed Railways. Shri Anoop Shrivastava, Inspector General, Railway Police Force and Shri B. Mohan, Chief Security Commissioner, Indian Railways also made presentation on Security Principles and various related issues.

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AC trains from Pune on high occupancy

AC trains from Pune on high occupancy

PUNE: Rail travellers from the city prefer the comforts of an air conditioned berth, even if it’s a pinch on the pocket. According to the railway data, the three fully air conditioned (AC) trains from Pune to Delhi, Nagpur and Howrah have received overwhelming responses. While the Pune- Delhi and Pune-Nagpur trains registered an occupancy of around 90 per cent, the Pune-Howrah Duronto registered an occupancy of 40 per cent on its maiden voyage.

According to the Pune railway division, the Pune-Delhi non-stop Duronto express has registered an average occupancy of more than 90 per cent. The train was introduced an year ago in September 2009. It is scheduled for two days a week on Tuesdays and Fridays from Pune to Delhi.

Similarly, the Pune-Nagpur-Pune Garib Rath, which is scheduled for three times a week from Pune on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, has registered an occupancy of around 85 per cent. The train was introduced in January 2009.

Suhas Lohakare, public relation officer, Pune railway division, said, “The Pune- Hazarat Nizamuddin Duronto is the only train between Pune and Delhi that travels via the Western route and covers the distance within 20 hours. All the other trains take more than 25 hours. The train has registered high occupancy in all seasons.”

About the Pune-Nagpur Garib Rath, Lohakare said, “According to statistics, the train is running with an average occupancy of 85 per cent. It has reduced its rates for AC coaches as compared to rates of AC coaches in ordinary trains.”

Lohakare added that the third fully AC train, from Pune to Howrah, was introduced recently, and has registered a good response (around 40 per cent occupancy). It is a significant number for the maiden journey of a train, he said.

U Nachiket, who travelled by Duronto said the travel time between Pune-Delhi has certainly reduced as compared with other trains. However, he added that the Tatkal’ facility should be made available for the Duronto express.

Harsha Shah of the Railway Pravasi Group, said, “Even tough AC trains are introduced by railways, the arrangements of berths should be made more comfortable. The berth arrangements in economy class are not comfortable for long journeys, especially for senior citizens. Besides, the railways should design new coaches for AC trains.”

Shah said the frequency of these trains should be increased considering the increasing response from passengers as there have been complaining about heavy rush and non-availability of reservations most of the times.

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Toilets in local trains soon

Toilets in local trains soon

The railways plan to introduce toilets and washbasins on local trains soon, railway minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday.

Speaking at Howrah, on the occasion of flagging-off of two more Duranto Expresses, she promised a ride to Digha in 2 hours 15 minutes after three months. The two new Durantos will run between Howrah and Pune (bi-weekly) and Howrah and Digha (daily). The frequency of Howrah- Bangalore (Yeshwantpur) Duranto has been increased to four days a week.

”There are some local trains that run for 3 hours. I’ve plans to introduce toilets and washbasins in them for benefit of elderly and women. DEMU local that will run between Burdwan-Azimgunj soon will have toilets,” she said.

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Now, a local that will will break the 100kmph speed barrier

Now, a local that will will break the 100kmph speed barrier

This month, the suburban railway will break the 100kmph speed barrier for the first time in its history.

Although voices are being raised in city’s railway circles whether the train can be allowed to run at such high speed given the closeness of stations within the city limits, the first train is being readied at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and will be brought to Mumbai by month-end.

“The 102nd train is already in Mumbai and the 105th, which is being manufactured, is likely to be the city’s first hi-speed train. While a few of its coaches are ready, the entire train should be ready and should be in city by October end or early November,” said PC Sehgal, managing director of the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC).

The new train is being procured under the Rs4,500-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), funded by World Bank and coordinated by the MRVC.

While the train will be similar to the existing ones, its high-speed bogie (wheel sets) will make all the difference. The bogies frames and technology has been bought from Siemens Australia.

A senior railway official said, “It has taken the railways six years to study and design the new train bogie. We are making a limited number of them and city should get just four to five of such trains which will be divided between Central and Western Railways.”
Officials said the train could achieve high-speeds on longer journeys beyond Kalyan, and in a few months when they start the run to Dahanu.

Officials said it is the track condition that allows higher speeds. In today’s context, the new high-speed train can achieve a speed of 110kmph on suburban local track and a speed of 130kmph on the track beyond Virar and Kalyan.

“Once the new train arrives, it will be subjected to heavy trials and oscillation tests. We will be loading them with sacks of sand to match the weight of a crowded train,” he added.

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IR to soon manufacture high power locomotives

IR to soon manufacture high power locomotives

Sanjeev Handa, member (mechanical) of the Railway Board, said the Indian Railways (IR) would soon manufacture high power locomotives of 12,000 horsepower.

Handa was addressing a function at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) on Saturday. He also flagged off a duel cab WDP 4D locomotive of 4,500 HP on the occasion. Addressing the function, he appreciated the work of DLW personnel in manufacturing the ultra modern locomotive. He said the operation of high speed trains was a challenge before the Indian Railways for which high power locomotives were needed.

Speaking on the occasion, DLW general manager K K Saxena highlighted the performance of DLW and said locomotives were being exported to countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Chief mechanical engineer Rakesh Vatash highlighted the features of WDP 4D locomotive. The DLW manufactured the duel cab locomotives with front and rear options for the first time. It can run at 130-km per hour maximum and 22.5km minimum speed.

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The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to use Unique Identification (UID) numbers, which will be issued by the government, as an identity and address proof for issuing a new mobile or landline connection. “The strength of the UID system will be utilised for telecom growth. As a first step, UID will be used as proof of identity and address,” a senior ministry official told Business Standard. The government plans to issue UID numbers to 600 million people by 2014. The project involves an expenditure of about Rs 3,023 crore, which includes project components for the issue of UID numbers by March 2011, and recurring establishment costs for the entire project phase of five years that end March 2014. UID numbers would help expedite growth in the telecom sector, especially in the rural areas, the official said. It would do away with hurdles while issuing a new mobile or landline connection, as the UID number could also be verified and authenticated online, ultimately reducing the total time of issuing the connection, the DoT official added. The UID system will also eliminate duplicate and fake identities. If the system is used in the telecom sector, the subscriber verification would no longer be a problem. The government has already asked telecom operators to follow stringent norms for verification of subscribers, especially prepaid mobile users. The proposal is part of DoT’s road map for the next five years, keeping in mind the growth of the sector.

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