September 23, 2014 1:37:30 am
Top bureaucrats of the Railways Ministry will spend Gandhi Jayanti sweeping stations across the country. The ministry issued a directive in this regard after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he wants to see cleaner stations and trains. A list of 245 ministry officials, including board members, additional members, executive directors, joint secretaries and directors, have been assigned one station each.
There are more than 7,000 railway stations in India. The officials have been briefed that merely overseeing the work and giving instructions will not do; they have to perform physical labour or, as the ministry put it, “shramdaan”. While Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth has asked officials from all ministries to participate in a cleanliness drive on October 2, for the Railways, the directive assumes greater significance since the ministry is accountable for the cleanliness of all stations and offices under its wing.
Moreover, since Modi has identified railway stations as one of the most unclean public areas in the country, Rail Bhawan officials wanted to send a strong message through this drive, a ministry official said. The ministry will pay for the travel and accommodation of top-level officials, while junior-level workers, who would have otherwise enjoyed a national holiday, are likely to be paid double under the national holiday allowance provision, it is learnt. The staff required to ensure that trains run on time are not required to participate.
Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar has issued detailed instructions and a to-do list to all officials. Zonal railways officials have been asked to capture the cleaning process on camera and send the video to the ministry. A “before and after” photo of the station will also have to be submitted.
At the moment, directors, executive directors and additional member-level officials at Rail Bhawan are busy calling up staff at their respective stations to check if arrangements for their arrival have been made. “Make sure you buy a broom for me,” is a common joke doing the rounds, sources said.
“The shramdaan will be organised at stations, trains, tracks, offices, workshops and railway colonies and should involve officers and staff at every level,” said the instructions from the chairman. “The drive shall last the entire day for eight hours,” the instructions added.
Smaller stations have been given an allowance of Rs 1,000 per platform for the drive. More challans than usual are expected to be issued for littering on the particular day. Most board members have chosen stations in or near Delhi, while some have chosen stations in their home towns in other parts of the country for the cleaning drive.
Since the festival of Ashtami also falls on October 2, many officials from the eastern part of the country have expressed difficulty in getting manpower on that day. In the run-up to October 2, Rail Bhawan has already gotten rid of 15 truckloads of office trash lying in the building.
CCTV cameras are also being installed to monitor cleanliness at the office. A peon was punished last week because he spilled tea in the ministry corridor, it is learnt. An official instruction has also been issued to keep attendants in every toilet in the building.
PM’s clean campaign hits holiday plans
Central government officials are unhappy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign as it may hamper their holiday plans over the long weekend — Gandhi Jayanti is on October 2( Thursday), Dussehra on October 3 (Friday) and Bakra Eid on October 6 (Monday).
Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth has sent letters to all government officials asking them to report to office on Gandhi Jayanti to take the swachhta shapath (cleanliness pledge) and participate in events, functions and a cleanliness drive. Sources said officials from several departments are irked by the September 20 directive as they had already booked travel tickets.
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