Monday, October 21, 2013

Measures to combat misuse of Izzat scheme yield results

21st October 2013 

Measures taken by the Railways to ensure issuing of Izzat concession tickets to just eligible candidates have succeeded in putting a check on rampant misuse of the scheme. According to figures available with the Thiruvananthapuram division of the railways, if the total number of users of the scheme in 2010-11 was recorded to be 1,30,714, it came down to 1,29,115 in 2011-12.

As per statistics taken in 2012 by the division, it was understood that most of the users of the scheme were actually ineligible for the scheme, as they did not come under the category of unorganised working class. Under Izzat scheme, persons with monthly income not exceeding `1,500 and working in unorganised sectors can get a monthly concession ticket for `25 for journeys up to maximum 100 km.
Taking into account various complaints about the misuse of the scheme, the railways in April, 2012, had released fresh orders to regulate issuing of the tickets.  Under the new orders, the railways decided to make it mandatory that all Izzat scheme issuers should sign a declaration that they are liable to punishment if their statements are found to be false.
“Initially, when the scheme was introduced in 2009, it was mentioned that a person was eligible for the ticket if he has a recommendation letter from an MP. However, this led to rampant misuse as anybody can get a letter from the MP stating that they needed the concession. The new order had put a fear among the public, which brought down the misuse in the state by over 50 per cent,” an official source said.
As part of the regulations, the railways also made enquiries and conducted checks on concession ticket holders and made phone calls to their homes to study their financial background.
During the study, it was found out that Kerala was one of the leading states in the misuse of the scheme.  “A major chunk of the people who misuse the scheme are students, engineers and nurses. Even owners of luxury cars have been found possessing the concession tickets,” sources said. For example, in Thiruvananthapuram last year, when the railway police questioned a luxury car owner to show his ticket, he produced the concession card under the Izzat scheme.
Railway officials said a recent order issued by the railways, which came into effect on October 15, is expected to bring down the misuse even further.
As per the new order, the passenger should first obtain an income certificate from local government officials -- SDM, SDO, BDO or Tahsildar, and thereafter obtain an income certificate from a member of the Lok Sabha. A recommendation from a member of the Rajya Sabha and any Union Minister should then be submitted to the Divisional Railway Manager. On production of the above-mentioned income certificates, copies of photo identity card and residential proof are must to avail of Izzat scheme.

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