GUWAHATI, Nov 3 - Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain today said he would take up the matter of giving priority to local youths from the North East for filing up grade C and D posts in the Indian Railways with his senior Piyush Goyal.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the ‘Vendor Meet’ organised by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) at Maligaon, Gohain said that he had earlier taken up the matter with Suresh Prabhu, when the latter was holding charge as the Cabinet-ranked Minister for Railways. “Prabhu is not in the Railway Ministry now. But I will take up the matter with Goyal,” he said.
Asked about alleged discrimination against locals of the north-eastern region in recruitment to railway jobs, the Minister said such is not the case. He said that recruitment to jobs in the Indian Railways is done at an all-India level and selection in done on the basis of merit.
When asked if he was implying that candidates from the North East do not possess merit, Gohain refrained from giving a direct answer and said, “When selection is done on all-India basis, it is always a challenge. Those who compete well get the jobs. So if we can give some relaxation with regard to locals (of the North East) that will be good.” He hinted that some major announcements may be in offing for the north-eastern region during the next Budget.
Earlier, delivering his speech at the ‘Vendor Meet’, Gohain said the Indian Railways has launched an ambitious programme of expanding its network, upgrading services and developing infrastructure across the country and special focus has been put on the North East.
“Indian Railways is undertaking major projects and there is huge requirement for materials. There is a demand-supply mismatch and more supply is needed. Young entrepreneurs from the North East can meet the needs of the Railways in this region,” he said. He added that selling products to the Indian Railways poses no problem as the entire system is streamlined.
“The complications that existed earlier have been removed and the process to supply maintenance spares has been made simple. Our local entrepreneurs should make use of this opportunity. There is a ready buyer, which is the Indian Railways. With railway connectivity set for a major boost in the North East, the potential for vendors is immense and will remain so for years to come,” said the Minister.
Director General (Railway Stores) of the Railway Board AK Goel said the Indian Railways is seeking to engage local industry and create a local vendor’s base in the NE and other parts of the country. “Our aim is to enhance the vendor’s base. In the next five years Indian Railways plans to invest Rs 5,00,000 crore for enhancement of capacity, electrification, infrastructure upgradation, production of new generation of locomotives and coaches. So we will need a better supply base,” he said.
He said the aim is to source more common items like office stationery, furniture and electric fans and so on from local vendors, instead of bringing such items to the North East from other places and added that local vendors can very well fulfil this need.
Since December last year a total of 44 new vendors have got themselves registered with NFR, including four as manufacturers and 40 as traders.
GM of NFR Chahatey Ram said the zonal railway is focusing on promoting local vendors in the NE. “Railway network in the North East is expanding fast and train services have been augmented. So we need more materials. The more we source locally the better it is for us as well as for the local economy,” he said.
Ram said NFR purchases around Rs 270 crore worth of materials of general nature annually. “There are materials like socks and such items. Why should such materials come from outside?” he said.
He said once vendors register themselves with the NFR, they need not pay any earnest money or security deposit for bidding for any contract.
GM of NFR (Construction) MK Prasad said there is always a shortfall of materials. “We need to develop more vendors, more suppliers and more industries to meet our local needs,” he said. Vendors from across the NFR zone took part in the meet.