In a major boost to passenger and luggage movement at railway stations, the railway board has approved a proposal to build pathways for trolleys used by coolies or sahayaks to move the belongings of passengers.
The coolies were renamed 'sahayaks' in 2016 by the then railways minister Suresh Prabhu, in a move to shed the negative colonial connotation of the term.
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The construction of the pathways at railway stations is among a slew of initiatives planned by the railways to not only ease passenger traffic at stations, but also to enhance the social security for this unorganised sector.
As of now, coolies, who ferried passenger luggage on their heads, have been given the option of using trolleys or hand barrows for carrying luggage. This, however, has created a lot of congestion at stations because often the trolleys are cumbersome and difficult to navigate during peak crowds.
"Pathways for trolley be constructed to facilitate smooth movement. These pathways may be provided at all major stations," the order stated.
Along with this, the board has also given its nod to permitting educational facilities for children of the coolies in schools run by railwaymen's organisation or mahila samiti at any station in the division where they are working.
The railways has also said that Sahayak restrooms should be provided with TV, RO water, barrack beds. It also said these restrooms be provided at all stations having a strength of 50 or more sahayaks.
The board has also extended the validity of complimentary passes for them from the present two months to five months which makes it at par with railway staff.
It has also said instead of the present practise of supplying two red shirts as uniform and one woollen shirt once in two years in lieu of one red shirt, the railways will provide three red shirts and one woolen shirt every year.