On 17th August 2021, loco drivers and their families including children staged a demonstration, under the banner of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), in front of the Bilaspur Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) office. The DRM of Bilaspur did not even allow the drivers to set up tents for the demonstration. The driver and their families protested this by raising slogans. They had to stage their protest under a tree.
About 400 people, including women, children and elderly people from loco drivers and their families, participated in this dharna-demonstration. Loco drivers also staged similar dharna in front of the crew lobby at Raigarh, Korba, Shahdol, Bijuri, Surajpur and Brajrajnagar headquarters. Here too, hundreds of women and children from their families took part.
This demonstration of the loco drivers was against the order of the Railway Administration, under which more than 60 running staff have been deployed at the newly constructed crew lobbies at Khongsra and Lajkura.
Apart from the A.I.L.R.S.A. office bearers and members, members of their families also addressed the demonstrators. They said that the railway administration is harassing its employees and their families. From the day this order is issued, we are all worried. The biggest concern is how the children will be educated. Due to this deployment, not only household work, but studies will also be affected.
As per the press release given by AILRSA, there is no housing, school, hospital, market, etc. facilities in Khongsara. The employees will not even get a rented house there, because that settlement is very small. It is totally inhumane to build a crew lobby on paper and deploy the loco drivers in such places without building fundamental infrastructure. This is in complete violation of the guidelines issued by Railway Board from time to time for construction/development of lobbies.
Khongsara is a forest area, where there is no city or town far and wide. There is no stoppage of Mail/Express at Khongsara nor of any passenger train at Lajkura. Brajrajnagar lobby already exists at a distance of 3 kms from Lajkura.
The loco drivers demanded that opening of unnecessary crew lobbies at places without any facilities should be stopped. They also demanded that the running staff should not be harassed in the name of cost reduction. Inhuman treatment of the families of loco running staff should be stopped.
It should be noted that despite several assurances on the earlier Surajpur and Kharsia crew-lobbies, the basic infrastructure has not been constructed so far. . In Surajpur, employees are being made to sleep in container coaches instead of running rooms. The matter has been discussed by giving memorandum to all the concerned officers of the division and zone, but their attitude is disappointing.
The protesters warned the railway administration that they would launch a massive agitation if their demands were not met. This movement of the running workers will continue till the solution of this problem is found. At the end of the protest, a memorandum was handed over to the Divisional Railway Manager for redressal of the problem.