New Delhi: The Coronavirus pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on the Indian Railways, which has lost as many as 1,952 employees due to the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The country’s largest transporter is reporting around 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 infection on a daily basis, the Railway Board chief said.
"Railways is not different from any other state or territory and we are also getting COVID-19 cases. We are in the business of transport and have to move freight and people. Around 1,000 (COVID) cases are reported daily, Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma said.
The Railways is one of the largest employers in not just the country but the world with around 13 lakh employees.
“We have our hospitals. We have augmented the number of beds; we have built oxygen plants in rail hospitals. We take care of our staff. As of now, we have 4,000 beds occupied by staff and their families. Our effort is to see that they recover quickly. As of yesterday, 1,952 rail employees have died due to COVID-19 since March last year,” he added.
A couple of days ago, the All India Railwaymen's Federation, a rail union, had written to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal demanding compensation at par with frontline workers for railwaymen who lost their lives while working during the coronavirus crisis.
In the letter, they said the men deserved Rs 50 lakh as compensation, same as that announced for frontline workers and not Rs 25 lakh which is paid to them.
Shiva Gopal Mishra, General Secretary of the All India Railwaymen's Federation said in the letter that more than one lakh have been infected by the virus, 65,000 have recovered and joined their duties while 1,500 have lost their lives due to coronavirus.
Sharma said the Railways was concerned about the safety of all railwaymen and took all necessary steps to minimise their exposure. Speaking on the ‘Oxygen Express', Sharma said that the Railways has delivered nearly 4,700 tonne of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) in more than 295 tankers to various states across the country since April 19.
On Sunday, Oxygen Express' delivered 831 tonne of LMO, a record for a single day. So far, 75 Oxygen Express' have already completed their journey, he said.
Till now, 293 tonne of LMO has been offloaded in Maharashtra, 1,334 tonne in Uttar Pradesh, 306 tonne in Madhya Pradesh, 598 tonne in Haryana, 123 tonne in Telangana, 40 tonne in Rajasthan and 2,011 tonne in Delhi, he said.
The first Oxygen Express to Karnataka has also started its journey from Tatanagar in Jharkhand and is on the way to Bengaluru with 120 tonne of oxygen.