The 1.4% decline projected for 2025 is driven by a 5.6% (72,000) dip in the strength of railway employees to 1.2 million by next year.
The workforce in central government departments, excluding the central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), is estimated to decline by approximately 50,000 employees by March 2025.
The overall expenditure on pay and allowances, however, is expected to increase by 6.9 per cent to Rs 3.2 trillion in the financial year 2024-2025, according to the latest Interim Budget documents.
The Interim Budget documents for FY25 show central government employee strength is estimated to peak in 2024 at 3.51 million, growing 12 per cent over the preceding year.
The 1.4 per cent decline projected for 2025 is driven by a 5.6 per cent (72,000) dip in the strength of the railway employees to 1.2 million by next year.
Other key central government establishments such as police, posts, and defence (civil) are estimated to see a marginal increase in workforce by March 1 next year.
Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha in December 2023, Minister of State in the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh, said instructions were issued to all ministries/departments of the central government to constitute an in-house committee for identification of backlog reserved vacancies, to study the root cause of such vacancies, to initiate measures to remove the factors causing such vacancies and to fill them up through special recruitment drives.
"Each ministry/department of the central government is required to designate an officer of the rank of deputy secretary and above, as liaison officer, to ensure due compliance of the orders and instructions about reservation," the minister said.
"Further, each ministry/department is required to set up a Special Reservation Cell under the direct control of the liaison officer to assist her/him in the discharge of duties.
"Implementation of these instructions by ministries/departments is followed up from time to time and handholding workshops are also organised," Dr Singh added.
"In a separate reply in the Rajya Sabha, in July 2023, Dr Singh said that according to the Annual Report of Pay Research Units of the Department of Expenditure, the number of vacancies in Group A, B, and C as of 1 March 2022 was 30,606; 110,000 and 820,000, respectively.
According to the department of expenditure order in April 2017, when a post remains vacant for more than two to three years, the same becomes 'deemed abolished'.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, the railways minister, informed the Rajya Sabha in December 2023 that recruitments are done periodically, anticipating vacancies and the needs on the ground.
"The requirement of manpower in different categories also differs based on the change in priorities and technology upgradations," the railways minister said.
"Railways have a dynamic process for identifying vacancies to be filled up and fill up the same in a continual manner. The vacancies are filled up primarily by placement of indents by Railways with recruitment agencies as per operational requirements," Vaishnaw added.
As many as 294,115 vacancies were filled up in the last five years, up to September 30, 2023."
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com