On one hand Indian Railways has been revamping its trains and refurbishing its stations. And on the other, inventory worth Rs 62 lakh were stolen from Indian long-distance trains just between April and September 2018. While the amount may not appear significant for operations as vast as Indian Railways, the tally of items is. Between April to September 2018 only, 79,350 hand towels, 27,545 bed sheets, 21,050 pillow covers, 2,150 pillows and 2,065 blankets were stolen amounting to Rs 62 lakh, as mentioned by Sunil Udasi, CPRO Central Railway.
In the last fiscal alone, 1.95 lakh towels, 81,736 bed sheets, 55,573 pillow covers and 7,043 blankets were stolen from Indian trains, as mentioned in numbers by the Western Railway. A Western Railway sources told Mumbai Mirror that property worth Rs 2.5 crore was stolen last fiscal - not including property that has been damaged. The cost of each blanket is Rs 132, while a towel costs Rs 22 and a pillow Rs 25.
Not only that, travellers pick 200 toilet mugs, around 1,000 taps and even flush pipes - 300 in number, every year.
The source said that trains are now equipped with facilities such as sensor-driven taps and CCTV cameras but they don't even last the maiden trip. After that the Indian Railways replaces them with cheaper options.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that post the country's first high-speed semi-luxurious train, Tejas Express' maiden run, it was discovered that passengers had taken away headphones, damaged LCD screens, soiled the toilets and littered the entire train. According to the daily, most of the train's Jaguar fittings were stolen and had to be replaced with cheaper ones.
Recently too, the Mumbai-Manmad Panchavati Express that was upgraded with better facilities and fittings at the cost of Rs 38 crore was left vandalised, leaving the national transporter with a repair bill of Rs 9 lakh. Tray tables and upholstery on the train were damaged, armrests were dislodged, curtains torn, and taps, trash cans, mirrors and faucets stolen.
Such is the state of apathy that the Indian Railways had to incur losses of Rs 4,000 crore over the last three fiscal years owing to thefts.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)