The Railway Board has appealed to all its 13.5 lakh employees to voluntarily donate a day's salary towards Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to support fight against the novel coronavirus.
In a letter to all the General Managers, the Railway Board said that the country is threatened with the spread of COVID 19 pandemic, which has been declared as a national disaster, leading to invocation of statutory provisions of Disaster Management Act.
"The Board has taken note of the fact that the likely intensity and spread of disease necessitate mobilisation of all possible help and contribution from every source. Therefore, those of us who are more fortunately placed have a very special responsibility in this hour of gravest crisis," it said.
"Railwaymen has always stood up and extended their helping hand in such hour of distress. In the past also railwaymen had shown their solidarity and generosity by contributing a day's basic pay to provide support to needy people," it added.
The Board said that it was suggested that one day's basic pay should be deducted from all willing railway servants, except those who give a specific declaration either for non-deduction or deduction for an amount less than one day's basic pay.
The Prime Minister's National Relief Fund is exempt under Income Tax Act, 1961 under Section 10 and 139 for return purposes. Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100 per cent deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
Besides, the Indian Railways is planning to manufacture personal protective equipments (PPEs) on a large scale after procuring the required raw materials as part of its efforts to combat novel coronavirus. The national transporter is also exploring manufacturing of ventilators and training its medical staff to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
Indian Railways is also ensuring availability of essential commodities through its freight services as the whole country remained lockdown due to the pandemic of coronavirus. Essential commodities like food grains, salt, sugar, milk, edible oil, onions, fruits & vegetables, petroleum products, coal, fertilizers etc. are being transported by Indian Railways throughout the country.
In a separate development, the Indian Railways on Friday announced that the period from March 22 till April 14 will be treated under 'force majeure' due to coronavirus outbreak, which has been declared as a natural calamity. During this period no demurrage, wharfage, stacking, stabling, detention and ground usage charge in case of container traffic will be levied. Force majeure means an event beyond the control of the supplier and not involving the supplier's fault or negligence and which is not foreseeable.
By Chitranjan Kumar