Kochi: The Railways plans to entrust ‘Kudumbashree’, the women empowerment and poverty eradication mission started by the state government, to manage at least seven “loss-making” railway halt stations which were facing threat of closure.
Earlier, halt agents, the private parties entrusted with management of low-income railway stations, sought withdrawal from the contract citing poor revenue generation with respect to Kanjiramattom, Kaduthuruthy, Chottanikkara Road, Kumaranellor, Kappil, Veli and Chouvara stations.
The railways, left with no other option, sought help of local bodies or Kudumb-ashree Mission to run the stations. “The Kudumbashree Mission has a successful stint with us in previous tie-ups-- may it be management of parking lots or that of Higher Class AC waiting halls in major stations across the division.”
Recently a higher-level railway delegation called on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking involvement of local bodies in addressing the issue besides that of waste management at vacant railway lands.
“The state government has given a positive assurance. A committee has been appointed to study scope of deploying Kudum-bashree workers. The scope of deploying labour groups under the MGNREGS scheme is also being looked into,” said a senior railway official.
“In many cases, revenue collection fell because of mismanagement on the part of halt agents. For instance, ticket counters remained closed even at times when trains with stops arrived. We’ve now been assured that the Kudumbashree will take up the job. We won’t close halt stations at any cost," the official said.
The railways on its part don’t want to deploy its staff at such stations and incur high expense towa-rds salary payments. Earli-er, halt agents, who get 15 per cent commission, clai-med the revenue collection from such stations is meagre. “The problem can be addressed by allotting stops to more trains in the peak hours at stations like Kanjiramattom. Currently only passenger and MEMU trains stop at the stations,” said Paul K.J. Manvettom, President of All Kerala Rail Users Association.