Indian Railway is planning to discontinue blankets in AC coaches of some trains to avoid criticism over cleanliness and management of linen.
Under fire from Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for not following the guidelines of washing the blankets every one or two months, the ministry is mulling the plan to discontinue service and bring up the temperature of coaches from 19-degree Celsius to 24 degrees Celsius in some trains.
The warmer temperature is intended to provide passengers comfort from heat while not being cold enough to make them shiver without blankets.
According to initial estimates, the move to do away with blankets is an economical option, considering that it takes Rs 55 to clean the bedroll while passengers are charged just Rs 22 for it.
Those who require blankets can book disposable bedrolls through the IRCTC website or purchase them from counters at the stations, under a year old scheme.
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The passenger can take it home after the journey. The Type 1 bedroll kit comprising two cotton bedsheets and a pillow costs Rs 140 while the Type 2 kit with one blanket costs Rs 110.
In its report tabled in Parliament on Friday, the country’s top auditor has said the washing and sanitation of linen as well as blankets are not done as per the norms established by the railways itself.
The Railway Board has instructed that washing of linen (except blankets) should be done after every single use and blankets be dry cleaned every two months.“Various zonal railways had provided periodicity of once every fortnight/month/once in two-three months for washing blankets,” said the CAG report.
The CAG has collected data on number of blankets in use and those washed during the review (2012-2013 to 2015-2016) period in 33 selected depots of coaches.
It was found that in 14 selected depots, under nine zonal railways, no blankets had been dry washed in the said period. And except for seven depots under five zonal railways, linens had not been sanitised in the other selected depots, the CAG has said.
During 2015-2016, in respect of 12 coaching depots of eight zonal railways, blankets had been washed after an interval of 6-26 months, the report stated.