Hyderabad: India seems to have a 10-year-old “freedom fighter” using its railway services for free.
Indeed, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the Indian Railways, which was recently tabled in the Parliament, the Railways has a huge problem with people claiming tickets at concession prices.
Between 2015 and 2018, nearly 1.5 lakh people travelled on concessional tickets given to freedom fighters and their companions, costing the exchequer more than Rs 1,700 crore in total. The youngest of the recipients of this concession was aged only 10, says the report.
Freedom fighters and their widows are issued complimentary card passes on a life time basis for free travel in first class and 2AC coaches along with a companion.
The CAG’s report suggests a major misuse of the concessions. Nearly 21 per cent of all “freedom fighters” were found to be younger than 70 i.e., after 1947.
As many as 1,302 male passengers and 1,898 female passengers travelled using these concessions. Of these, 1,096 male and 580 females were not even 60 years old.
The CAG report notes, in its report, states the passenger reservation system does not have a required input validation control to prevent the misuse of concessions benefits to ineligible persons. There are 15 instances wherein the numerical code of the freedom fighter pass was entered as ‘0’.
The report also has data on the concessions in general. It observes that use of concessions has been more in AC coaches than in those without non-AC.
The report notes that the Indian Railways did not take adequate steps to control concessions. It says the concessions could have been discontinued in new categories of trains, however this too was not done. “In trains where it was initially not allowed, concessions were allowed subsequently,” it says....