The Indian Railways is exploring the possibility of manufacturing select essential medical items such as hospital beds, medical trolleys and sanitizers at its various production units. In a communique to general managers at its production units, the Railway Board on Tuesday asked them to “assess the feasibility to manufacture these items in large quantities [as may be required] at short notice. Items identified thus may be communicated to the Board along with its likely production rate.”
Observing that the COVID-19 pandemic had gripped the country, the Railway Board said that in this dire situation the manufacturing capacities of the Indian Railways would likely be needed to be harnessed.
“Manufacturing facilities available in Indian Railways... can be utilised to manufacture items like simple hospital beds (without mattress), medical trolleys for hospitals and quarantine facilities, IV stands, stretchers, hospital footsteps, hospital bedside lockers, washbasins with stands, ventilators, and PPEs like masks, sanitizers, etc.”
It added that other items requiring sheet metal fabrication work, welding and machining could also be manufactured in various production units including Chittaranjan Loco Works, Chittaranjan; Integral Coach Factory, Chennai; Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala; Diesel Loco Works, Varanasi and Rail Wheel Factory, Yelahanka.
“The exact items to be manufactured may be decided in consultation with Principal Chief Medical directors in your Railway/ production units,” the Board said.
Separately, the Indian Railways has decided that contractual and outsourcing staff, who are engaged in providing services such as on-board housekeeping, sanitation, pantry cars, will be treated on duty and will be paid accordingly even as passenger train services remain suspended.
The move will benefit at least 50,000 workers.
In an order issued on Tuesday, the railways has said that due to the prevailing coronavirus situation in India and the stoppage of passenger trains, several contractual staff engaged in on-board housekeeping service, sanitation, pantry car and commercial activities have been stranded and have to compulsorily stay at other places, while others have to be in readiness to attend to duties at a short notice.
“In order to reduce the hardship being faced by these workers, Board has decided to treat the employees of private establishments (including temporary, contractual, outsourced) engaged in providing services in trains, stations and offices, directly affected with suspension of services and lockdown situations, as on duty and be paid accordingly till the expiry of suspension of services/lockdown or as advised by the central government in this regard,” the board said.