Indian Railways Bans WhatsApp For All Employees; Will It Improve Safety & Security Of Trains?
Railway employees have been found to use WhatsApp and YouTube heavily
Since last few days, we have witnessed an alarming increase in number of mishaps happening on the tracks of Indian Railways. Critics have been blaming Indian Railways for their careless attitude, and pinpointing additional expenses like bullet trains for this.
Newly appointed Railways Minister Piyush Goel has made it clear that security and safety is the top priority of Railways. ISRO was roped in to provide exact GPS location and other details for enhancing safety of all trains.
In this same endeavor, WhatsApp, the most popular messenger in the world, has been banned for all railway staff. And the reason is that, WhatsApp can distract the staff, and hence cause accidents.
Is that the case? We explore..
No WhatsApp For Indian Railways Staff
Delhi division of Indian Railways has issued a fresh circular, wherein all associated staff members have been banned from using WhatsApp.
Most probably, this decision was inspired by Railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani, who had recently issued a strict advisory for all staff members, asking them to be alert at all possible time period.
The current circular to ban WhatsApp has been issued for all maintenance and safety staff such as trackmen, gang men guards on railway crossings, loco pilots and train guards.
In fact, even loco drivers and station managers and ticket checkers have been asked, not to use WhatsApp during their duty hours.
An unnamed official said, “It was noted that several staff associated with the safety department or the operational staff were indulging in WhatsApp and YouTube during working hours. This caused major distraction and thus compromised passenger safety. They have been told not to use these apps and entertainment medium and perform their duty with greater efficiency and alertness,”
Interestingly, the diktat has been issued mainly for WhatsApp, not YouTube, which has also been found to be heavily used by Railway staff members.
Besides, the circular has ordered all drivers and guards to stay extra alert, not only for their own trains, but also for trains arriving from opposite direction.
They are asked to keep on checking tracks, and report any obstruction or unnatural activity.
Note here, that as per existing rules, drivers and guards are required to switch off their phones during their duty hours, and they are not even allowed to leave the locomotive to attend nature’s call.
Earlier, Minister Goyal had asked 200 officers from the headquarters to be assigned ground duty, and check tracks at regular intervals. He has even banned AC Class travel for top officials, and ordered them to travel in normal sleeper and general class to understand the true issues of the passengers.
But.. WhatsApp Was Used For Complaint Management
This ban on WhatsApp can be termed as surprising, because in June this year, Railways created a special WhatsApp group for monitoring cleanliness at various stations. This was done at Lucknow division of Northern Railways, and at least 25 different WhatsApp groups were created for 25 different railway stations.
Divisional railway manager (DRM), NR, Lucknow, Satish Kumar had said, “Train has old coaches and there were many complaints about the train. We were not able to do away with all of them during our routine maintenance of the train. Having created a WhatsApp group has helped. Number of complaints have reduced,”
Way back in 2014, such similar WhatsApp group was created in Bhopal division as well.
But, will banning WhatsApp improve security and safety of trains? This is indeed a debatable question. Do share your opinions by commenting right here!