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HC raps Southern Railways over lack of cleanliness in trains

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Press Trust of India Chennai
The Madras High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the railways over problems encountered by passengers over bedrolls and rat menace on trains, saying it was the duty of higher officials who lead a "luxurious life to ensure minimum level of cleanliness.
The court said unions agitating for the rights of the employees have also got the duty to ensure that the members are performing their duties with commitment.
Justice SM Subramaniam made the strong observation while disposing of a plea by Premier Garments Processing seeking quashing of an order of Salem division of Southern Railway that cancelled the letter of acceptance given to the petitioner regarding cleaning and washing bedsheets on various trains.
The judge observed that the heads of the Southern Railways and higher level officials are leading a luxurious life at the cost of passengers....
The judge said that every passenger has the right to claim cleanliness at a reasonable-level and at least as per the norms prescribed by the Indian Railways in their rules and regulations.
If that is not provided, then the court is of the opinion that the authorities must be held accountable and answerable and certainly a personal liability on the part of the officials is to be fixed, he said.
It is the duty of the railway officials to oversee the performance and work of the contractors in light of the most common complaints by the passengers that the bedsheets in AC compartments were either not washed at all or washed improperly, the judge said.
Moreover, the passengers travelling at night are disturbed and become panicky on account of movement of cockroaches and rats inside the coaches, he added.
Despite facts being revealed, openly and through the media on many occasions, there has been no improvement in maintaining the standards in respect of these complaints, the judge noted.
Referring to the functioning of various unions which fight for the rights of their workmen in railways, the judge said, "When these unions are agitating for the rights of the employees, equally, they have got the duty to ensure that the members of the unions are performing their duties and responsibilities with commitment and with devotion to duty."

On the contract awarded to the petitioner, the judge said, "...this court is of an opinion that the petitioner failed on his part to comply with the terms and conditions stipulated both in the general conditions of contract 2014 as well as the conditions stipulated in the letter of acceptance."

Confirming the cancellation of contract awarded to the petitioner for not complying with the terms and conditions stipulated, the judge directed the railways to proceed with the re-tender notification within two weeks from the date of receipt of the order copy and conclude the entire tender process at the earliest.
Also, the judge directed the general manager of the railways to fix the duties and responsibilities of the employees in respect of maintenance of railway coaches, both inside and outside as well as the railway platforms.
In the event of any failure on these counts, the judge ordered provision of exclusive telephone numbers for the benefit of the passengers and other people concerned, enabling them to register complaints.
For this purpose, the judge ordered publishing of the telephone numbers in bold letters, both inside the trains and at platforms.

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First Published: Sep 27 2018 | 8:25 PM IST

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