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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

4.32 lakh railways staff vaccinated so far

As many as 145 station masters have died of Covid since the outbreak, almost all of them this year, according to a list maintained by the union of station masters. This figure was 113 last week.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: May 18, 2021 4:20:53 am
Mumbai-based Central Railway's General Manager Alok Kansal wrote to Maharashtra Chief Secretary on Monday requesting that railway staff of all age group be declared frontline workers and vaccinated.

AROUND 4.32 lakh railwaymen have been vaccinated so far and the railways is insisting that state governments inoculate the remaining, Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma said on Monday, even as staffers in its frontline operations continue to be affected by Covid.

As many as 145 station masters have died of Covid since the outbreak, almost all of them this year, according to a list maintained by the union of station masters. This figure was 113 last week.

Mumbai-based Central Railway’s General Manager Alok Kansal wrote to Maharashtra Chief Secretary on Monday requesting that railway staff of all age group be declared frontline workers and vaccinated.

Station masters have now given an “ultimatum” to Railway authorities to vaccinate them by June 30. “If more and more station masters continue to be affected then, without vaccine, we don’t know if they will be able to report to duty,” said an office-bearer of the station masters’ union. “Some vaccination drive has started. We believe one and half months would be enough time to vaccinate all,” the office-bearer said.

CEO Sharma’s remarks came days after the government wrote to states instructing them to use their quota of free vaccines only for those designated as frontline workers by the government or those above the age of 45 years.

The government’s list of frontline workers does not include railway staffers, something that the unions have been complaining about for a long time.

“The railways have so far vaccinated 4.32 lakh employees. We have been in touch with state governments for vaccination for the balance staff. The first stage was 45 years and above and the frontline workers like medical staff and RPF. They have been completed,” Sharma said while addressing a press briefing on Monday.

Medical staff and Railway Protection Force were vaccinated as frontline workers in the earlier phase of innauculation.

He said that now the thrust is on those aged between 18 to 45. “We are in touch with the states, as the railways carries essential commodities, we run the Oxygen Expresses and meet the coaching requirements of passengers. We have been insisting on state governments to quickly take action in inoculating our people,” Sharma said.

He said while the railways is yet to receive a formal demand for vaccination from any of its sectors, it is in discussion with railwaymen on the issue and have assured them that they will get them vaccinated the “fastest”.

As of now, almost 2,000 rail employees have died of coronavirus and around 1,000 are infected daily.

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