Why a new Indian Railways policy of letting train cleaners distribute linen has Congress angry in MP

By: | Published: August 6, 2018 2:17 PM

On July 15, following the new contract policy, the Jabalpur Division gave away a new contract worth Rs 13.94 crore for this combined activity on 15 trains. Similar contracts are also being prepared by other zones as well.

railwaysA campaign has been started by the Congress in Jabalpur Division of West Central Railway against the practice of letting toilet cleaners handle linens.

Indian Railways’ latest policy move to get train cleaners to distribute bedsheets and blankets to railway passengers has got the Congress angry in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, according to an IE report. At present, the linen set, which consists of a blanket, pillow, bed sheets and hand towels, is given to each passenger travelling in the air-conditioned classes by a dedicated coach attendant. The Onboard Housekeeping Service (OBHS) staff, who is responsible for cleaning the coach and the toilets during the journey does the cleaning job. According to the report, as per the the new Standard Bid Document, which has been issued by the Railway Board to streamline the OBHS on trains, the person deputed to provide the OBHS service shall be in charge of maintenance and complaint redressal, maintenance of trash-cans, washing, cleaning as well as disinfection of areas, including pest control, collection and disposal of garbage from the entire train, operating lost and found in the train and distribution of linen to passengers.

A campaign has been started by the Congress in Jabalpur Division of West Central Railway against the practice of letting toilet cleaners handle linens. Sauravnati Sharma, secretary, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee was quoted in the report stating that the practice is an unhygienic one that puts the passenger at possible health risks. The secretary further stated that they are opposing the practice.

According to a senior Railway Ministry official who was quoted in the report, at present, the job of washing the linen, distributing them among passengers and onboard housekeeping service are mostly carried out by three different contractors. The new policy by the Railway Board aims to get a single contractor to do the three jobs in order to ease the process of fixing accountability.

The news report stated that, on July 15, following the new contract policy, the Jabalpur Division gave away a new contract worth Rs 13.94 crore for this combined activity on 15 trains. Similar contracts are also being prepared by other zones as well. Demonstrations have been held by the Congress in Jabalpur against the practice before the Divisional authorities. Also, pamphlets and posters have been circulated by them in trains.

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Manoj Singh was quoted in the report saying that the staff will be provided with proper gear and material so that they keep themselves clean. According to the DRM, there is nothing wrong with one person doing two jobs and stated that why only one section of people should be reserved for the job of cleaning.

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