Suppose you’re an employee of a general store, do you expect the owner of that store to provide for your annual requirements of food grains free of cost? And, what if you work in some jewellery shop? Do you expect free gold coins for yourself as yearly bonus?
Not really! You have to pay for them even if you’re working in companies dealing with such products. At best, you might request your employer to trim his business profits for the shopping done by you from his store for a preferential treatment as an employee.
In that case, why do Railway employees enjoy the facility of free railways passes – simply because they are railways employees? Yes, as many as 25 lakh railways employees – 14 lakh from the working group and 11 lakh retired employees – currently enjoy the privilege of free rides. How much is it justified?
In this regard, a proposal has been given by Expenditure Reform Commission to increase the revenues of the Railways. If this proposal is accepted by the Cabinet in its review of the prevalent practice; this discrepancy may soon come to an end. But, even if any such a decision is reached by the Centre, it is likely to meet strong resistance from the railway employee unions.
A report says that currently the Railways annually provide 6 privilege passes to each of its officers and four passes to its workers, allowing them a free ride. If they’re asked to pay, the cumulative figures would work out to hundred of crores of revenues for the state-owned Indian Railways – which has about 13000 officers and the remaining as workers.
Having said that, the Railways do not pay leave travel allowance (LTA) to such employees who enjoy the benefits of free ride. Well, that’s fair enough! But, my personal opinion being that Railways should instead provide for the basic LTA to its employees and scrap the aged-old system of providing free passes, prevailing since the British Raj.
Frankly, this base issue applies in many other portfolios of our daily life – and not just limited to Indian Railways. The same should be enforced in other departments too.
What’s your opinion on this – Should it be LTA or Free-pass – for the Railways Employees?