by Vimla M, Purogami Mahila Sangathan
The central government is opening up jobs to women as assistant loco pilots in the Railways. The Railway Ministry has handed over many railway stations in the country to women. Currently, more than 2,000 women are running trains. But there has been no thought given to the basic sanitation needs of women. Toilets have not been provided in the engines of trains.
The rules are so harsh that loco pilots (Engine drivers) cannot leave the engine. Drivers are not even allowed to get down at stoppages of only two or three minutes. Loco pilots routinely do a continuous duty of 10 to 12 hours. In winter, trains can get delayed by up to 36 hours due to fog.
IRLO coordinator Sanjay Pandhi said that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had asked the Ministry of Railways in 2013-14 to install toilets and ACs in train engines, but the Railways did not implement it. The Railway Ministry spokesperson has been questioned about this many times but these demands have fallen on deaf ears.
To desperately cope with the situation, women drivers are compelled to wear sanitary pads, while men are compelled to carry bottles. The basic demands of loco pilots are very legitimate. We have good examples from countries across the world. For instance, in the UK, a loco pilot is given a 40-minute break between 3 to 4 hours in eight hours of duty. However “Modern” India seems to be high above these worldly issues!