Monday, May 16, 2016

To

The Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Rail Bhawan, NEW DELHI – 110001.

Sir,

Sub:- Adverse effects of intolerable atmospheric temperature on running staff and thus safety – reg.

At the very outset I would like to express our gratitude for allowing us to air our grievances during the meeting held last time. Further the loco running staff of Indian railways are very much obliged to see that your honour has inaugurated a loco with toilet as we were assured. But our apprehension is that its fate will also be like the provision of AC in a few locos, which are by this time either removed / defunct. Since last 10 years or more we have been assured that all the locos, rest rooms, running rooms & lobbies etc. would be provided with AC. But as yet only very limited locos are provided with AC. No AC is provided in the running room. Now I am before your good office with a request seeking your urgent intervention in the following matter.

The temperature throughout the country is now 2°C to 6°C more than the previous years and it is going to be so, if we are to believe the prediction of meteorological department. Hot wave conditions are already prevailing and the schools in many states were prematurely closed upon the orders of the educational department. The hot wave conditions have resulted in heat strokes, thus unfortunately snatching away valuable lives to the extent of 300 so far, from various parts of the country. The worst affected states are Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Utter Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh etc. To add to our woes we are also facing severe water crisis at many places in the country. Your honour, we will definitely appreciate that despite of such problem the loco running staff is working in the interest of nation.

In order to overcome the crisis the Central Government, State Governments and other disaster management organisations have started their efforts. In many outdoor jobs, the timings have been re-scheduled to protect the workmen from the peak hour heat. 

Whereas the national authorities are raising to the occasion in tackling the situation, the Railway authorities have unfortunately taken a stand of negligence and negation towards their work force, which is the biggest in India. I am constrained to state that no efforts are being made by the railway authorities to take into account the unbearable hot conditions being faced by the loco running staff. The temperature inside a driving cab is practically much more than the outside temperature owing to the air suction of blower / other motors. In 3-Phase locos, the cabs are designed purely for air-conditioning usage and in the absence of air conditioning, they are frying-pans. And we have no hesitation to accept that we are no better than slaves, who have no other go than to continue working, in the most unacceptable and inhumane working conditions. Undoubtedly such crew, who brave extremities of summer, winter, rain etc. are the backbone of Indian Railways. You will also be in agreement that we are the output of Indian Railways, in comparison with all other categories of staff, who put together constitute the input of Indian Railways. 

There is no denial that neither the timings of the trains can be re-scheduled nor the services put on hold during the peak hours of heat. What is in our reach and practically possible is, how to reduce the hardships of the driving crew. With dead/ noisy/ ineffective fans in driving cabs which have no natural air circulation, we are a neglected lot. Drinking water carried by the crew exhausts easily in summer season. It is alarming to note that not even 5% of locomotives are provided with air-conditioning. The order of the Railway Board with regard to provision of air conditioning in loco cabs, has caught dust, in the absence of will to implement it. Even in new locos where AC is installed at the manufacturing facility, we find that those ACs are either removed or dummied or inefficient.

After a tiring and testing exposure in the day heat of summer, the crew reach running room only to find an inefficiently provided air cooling system. Though the D.P.Tripathi Committee recommended for air-conditioning in all the running rooms in a phase-wise manner, we are yet to commence any work in this direction. The recommendation of the said Committee that newly built running rooms, which are required to start operations only with a AC provision, remains only in the papers. In the result, the crew after their testing spell of duty, land in running room only to be further inconvenienced by the lack of sufficient cooling. This results in lack of proper / minimum rest / sleep. In the return direction of duty, these crew are potential threats for SPAD. There is an urgent requirement to provide air-conditioning in all the running rooms. To start with, it is to be provided in areas where temperature in summer exceeds 40°C and in humid areas as well, where air cooling facility is rendered ineffective.

In fine, there is an imminent danger of spurt in SPAD cases, attributable to the above working conditions. In these circumstances I shall vehemently urge you to install Air Conditioning in all locomotives and Running Rooms in a time bound manner. As of now there is no effective monitoring at Railway Board level for the installation of AC in loco cabs/ Running Rooms. This situation has made me approach your good self for kind intervention. I hope that IR will raise to the occasion and become a model employer in this regard.

Thanking you in anticipation.

                                                                                Yours sincerely,


                                                                           (M.N.Prasad)  Secretary General



Copy to :- The Chairman, Railway Board.



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