Trains account for nearly 2.5 crore passengers, daily, from all constituencies. At crowded stations during rush hours, there is hardly enough space to sit. Squatting down on the platform, sitting on your suitcase, leaning against pillars, becomes the norm.
Well, Indian Railways is all set to install one lakh benches in 1,500 stations across India.
The Railways has also found a clever way to fund these benches. Local Members of Parliament will provide funds with the incentive that the bench will sport their name. Not only that, for every bench an MP sponsors at a station within their constituency, the Railways will install another bench at the same station, displaying the concerned MP’s name as the benefactor.
The tender for the one lakh benches is expected by next month and is touted as the single largest procurement of public furniture by a government institution. The plan to install the benches is part of the umbrella scheme of the Railways–to utilise Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds for upgrading station amenities.
One steel bench may cost anything from Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000, depending on the size and features. The Railways want four-seater and 10-seater circular benches. The Members of Parliament across the political spectrum know of the new policy and can contact the Railways with a pledge to sponsor if they so wish.
The Railways hopes the idea works better this year, and as of now, around Rs 14 crore has been collected by them for the benches. Prominent politicians including the Prime Minister, have pledged money for benches at stations in their constituencies.
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The last time the job had been spread across numerous tenders by the zonal railways, however, this time, the matter is being anchored in New Delhi, to ensure uniformity in design and specifications.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)