Union Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday informed the Rajya Sabha that medical facilities to ‘Sahayaks’ (licensed porters or coolies) and their family members are provided at par with Railway employees as well as free education is available for their wards in the schools run by Railways.
Despite not being Railway employees, various facilities have been extended to coolies who have been granted the license for carrying luggage of passengers at porterage charges directly payable by the passengers to them, said the Minister.
In a written response to a question, the Minister said “Medical facilities to Sahayaks and their family members are being provided at par with Railway employees and family members as defined in Railway Medical Rules at the Railway hospitals and Railway Health Units where Sahayaks are presently working including for referral to other Railway Health Units and Railway Hospitals but not to private hospitals empanelled with Railways.”
However, Vaishnaw said, those Sahayaks who are registered with Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna will get medical facilities in Railway Hospitals and Railway Health Units.
In a Calendar year, Vaishnaw said, one set of ‘Complimentary Admin’ Cheque Pass and two sets of Privilege Ticket Order of second and sleeper class are extended to Sahayaks.
Besides, the Minister said, “Free educational facilities are available for children of Sahayaks in the schools run by Railways’ and Railwaymen’s Organisations and Mahila Samities”.
Three red shirts and one woollen shirt as uniform are supplied every year to the Sahayaks, said Vaishnaw, adding “restroom facility has been provided at all stations having the strength of 50 and more Sahayaks”.
The Minister also said that “every calendar year Sahayaks are eligible for one set of ‘Complimentary Admin’ Cheque Pass and the same is issued on receipt of application.”
As per the Minister, the total strength of Sahayaks, at present, is 19,903.