Not just railway officials but their wives too have now been asked to avoid ostentation. The Railway Women’s Welfare Organisation (RWWO) president, Arunima Lohani, the wife of Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, has issued an advisory to RWWO members to avoid splurging, days after railway officials were asked to put an end to the VIP culture. Arunima Lohani, in the October 3 letter, asked members of the RWWO to avoid floral decorations during meetings and barred the presentation of mementos and gifts to anyone using the organisation’s funds. She has also said that expenditure incurred towards refreshments served during such meetings should be met from the subscription collected by the RWWO. “Farewell may be given to RWWO volunteers on the occasion of retirement only and not transfers. In case of president or senior members or executive members, the expenditure towards souvenir should not exceed Rs 2,000. RWWO’s money should not be spent on celebration of birthdays and anniversaries of any member,” the letter reads.
An official in the know of the working of the organisation said that it was for the first time that such a letter had been issued by any president. “For the first time, there will be some kind of accounting of the finances of the organisation. Huge amount of money was spent on farewell and parties previously,” the official said. In an order on September 28, the Railway Board chairman brought to an end a 36-year-old protocol where it was mandatory for general managers to present themselves on arrival and departure of the Railway Board chairman and other board members during zonal visits. Ashwani Lohani also said no official would accept bouquets and gifts.
The RWWO president called for a level of accountability from office-bearers and stated that all funds collected through subscription should be deposited in the organisation’s bank account. She also stated that except for the limited cash required for day-to-day expenses, money belonging to the organisation should not be kept with any office-bearer. She also said that a maximum tenure of three years for holding the posts of treasurer and secretary of the organisation should be strictly adhered to. The RWWO functioning at zonal and divisional levels of the Indian Railways is engaged in various activities related to the welfare of railwaymen and their families. The organisation also runs creches, schools and training centres.