Southern Railways Receives Rs 50 Crore To Clear Dues, To Continue Housekeeping Services
After the Southern Railways received a last-minute sanction of Rs 50 crore to pay off the debts of contractors handling the Onboard House Keeping services (OBHS), it has cancelled the order of suspension of housekeeping services in 86 long-distance trains from September 1. The Hindu reported that the top officials intervened at the last moment and fund was sanctioned.
Yesterday, a letter was again sent to all major railway officials in Palghat, Madurai, Chennai, Salem, Thiruvananthapuram, and Tiruchi divisions by the Southern Railways’ Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer – Shubranshu stating that the order on the withdrawal of housekeeping services from September 1 has been called off. Shubranshu had earlier asked to send notices to contractors in these divisions to suspend OBHS operations.
The release of funds came after the media reported the unprecedented fund crisis the Southern Railways was facing.
These are the only trains in Southern Railway which might be clean on Southern Railway. The rest of the 86 trains will have no cleaning while it runs. Southern Railway says its because of funds crunch. pic.twitter.com/2ljGP7xg4j
— Vasu (@vasudevan_k) August 21, 2019
The unprecedented step to cancel housekeeping services came after Sothern Railways sent an SOS to Railway Ministry seeking to release funds to immediately pay the contractors. However, the Centre didn’t respond to the SOS sent by the Southern Railways’ General Manager – Rahul Jain.
The issue of the inadequate fund was first raised on July 5, 2019, but was not addressed by the Ministry.
Jain in his letter on August 7, wrote, “The existing funds will be enough for us only for the bills raised for works done in the month of August-September 2019. In the face of such shortage of funds, Southern Railways shall have no option but to stop all OBHS work on all 110 trains in a few weeks’ time and thus would have to start issuing contract termination notices shortly.”
The Southern Railways for the financial year 2019-20 was allocated Rs 108 crore against its projected requirement of funds of Rs 194 crore.
Media Gave A Wrong Picture
After media reports of suspension went viral on social media. The Southern Railways took to Twitter to announce that Rs 50 crore is being sanctioned and then to dismiss that it was a crisis. It said that “an alarmist” situation has been portrayed by the media. It wrote, “ There was a funds mismatch issue, which has since been sorted out and bills over Rs 50 crores are being processed for payment.” It also quelled the ongoing speculation of cancelling the OBHS services.
— @GMSouthernrailway (@GMSRailway) August 22, 2019
It wrote, “ At no stage did Southern Railway consider stopping OBHS and other allied services on Southern Railway trains.” It further clarified by saying that OBHS, pest control, linen supply, toilet maintenance will continue in all the 110 long-distance trains under the Southern Railway.