Saturday, July 08, 2017

Row over VIP lounge at Surat rly station

Times of India: Surat: Saturday, July 08, 2017.
The VIP room culture does not exist in any of the railway stations across the country, but the authorities at Surat railway station have made a VIP lounge at Surat railway station for use of senior railway officers and VVIP dignitaries.
The issue has been brought to the notice of higher-ups in Western Railway (WR) and railway ministry by RTI activist Rajesh Modi. In a communication to Western Railway divisional railway manager and the railway ministry, Modi has stated that only the VVIPs are allotted the VIP lounge for resting, while other long distance passengers are denied access to it.
The platform number 1 at Surat railway station has two waiting rooms for air-conditioned coach travellers and first-class travellers. A room just beside the station master's office has the plate mentioning it as VIP lounge.
The Railway Board has clarified to Modi, who had filed an application under RTI Act, that there was no concept of VIP rooms at the railway stations. However, instructions exist for provision of air-conditioned VIP lounge at A1 category stations.
Modi has gone for an appeal on this issue. He wants the Railway Board to provide him the list of VIP rooms at the railway station premises, list of dignitaries eligible as VIP and notification stating that the VIP rooms can't be used by common citizens.
Modi told TOI, "I contacted a senior railway officer asking him whether I can use the VIP lounge at platform number 1. He denied me access to it stating that the VIP lounge is for VIP dignitaries only. I sought a clarification on who is a VIP and the notification but he remained mum. The railway minister has been urging the passengers to give up their subsidy on railway tickets. Why then the railway is using the public money to maintain VIP lounges? Why can't the so-called VIPs use air-conditioned and IInd class sleeper waiting rooms on the platform?"
He said, "I contacted divisional railway manager Mukul Jain regarding the VIP lounge issue. He told me there is no such lounge at Surat station. I sent him the picture and he has assured me to look into the issue."