In a report submitted to the Parliament on 21 July, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has bashed the railways over cleanliness and management of linen, as reported by Hindustan Times. CAG has suggested putting in place a mechanism to ensure strict compliance with the laid down norms.
Only last week the Indian Railways was in the news for being reprimanded by the CAG for serving low quality of food.
The recent report stated that the cleanliness standards of the Indian Railways are far below the prescribed benchmark. According to the Railway Board instructions, washing of linen (except blankets) should be done after every single use and blankets should be dry-cleaned every two months.
CAG has reportedly collected data on some blankets in use and those washed during the review (2012-2013 to 2015-2016) period in 33 selected depots of coaches. It was found out that in 14 selected terminals, under nine zonal railways, no blankets had been dry-washed in the said period. Also, except for seven depots under five zonal railways, linens had not been sanitised in the other selected bases.
During 2015-2016, blankets had been washed after 6-26 months in 12 coaching depots of eight zonal railways, the report stated. These depots are viz. Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai), Sealdah (Kolkata), Gwalior, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Lucknow, Secunderabad, and Hatia and Tatanagar (in Jharkhand).
The report has pointed out cases where clean and sanitised linen have been kept together and also where pillow covers were stitched from used bed sheets to overcome shortages. In some areas, the fresh linens are not stored properly and thus are exposed to dirt and contamination. These cases have taken place in Basin Bridge depot in Chennai, in Northern Railways, in Mahalakshmi and Sabarmati storage depots in Western Railways and also in Kharagpur.
CAG has also revealed how new stock remained unutilised almost all their life span. In North Eastern Railway, the stock at the depots had already completed two-to-seven months life from the date of manufacture before it was received at the Gorakhpur depot. Similar cases have also taken place in South Eastern railways were under-utilisation of stock were also noted.
“Blankets and pillows were not dry cleaned and sanitised for long periods before supply to the passengers,” the audit reportedly said. The CAG has recommended that the Railways seek regular feedback from passengers to effectively improve passenger satisfaction in respect of quality of linen.
The Logical Indian community condemns the lackadaisical attitude of the Indian Railways that had been bothering its customers for a long time and has now been confirmed by the CAG Report. We urge the Indian Railways to take this matter seriously and strive to provide better facilities for its customers.