Shoe-shine boys to help railway accident victims

Shoe-shine boys could be the new saviours for the Mumbai railway. The accident monitoring committee, appointed by the high court, on Thursday suggested formally roping in the shoe-shine boys to help injured accident victims.

"People aren't always willing to help take injured victims to hospitals. Earlier station masters took the help of shoe-shine boys informally, but didn't pay them. If we make this official and pay them within half-anhour, it will further encourage the boys," Bhawesh Patel, a members of the committee.

"Ambulances are now posted right outside most stations and the task is to just carry the victims outside. They will be paid about Rs 100 for their ef fort," he said. Maharashtra Emergency Medical Service ambulances are present outside 18 stations on Central Railway and 28 stations on Western Railway.

While the central railway divisional manager Mukesh Nigam said that he would have to examine the legali ties of it, the western railway divisional manager Shailendra Kumar said they were issuing licences to coolies at smaller stations for the same purpose.

A shoe-shine boy on the condition of anonymity said, "Often, the station staff bullies us saying that if we don't do something that they want us to, our licenses will be seized. As long as that is not the case, we don't mind helping for the sake of humanity" Mumbai's shoeshine industry is run by fourteen co-operative societies - six associated with the central railways and eight with the western railways and the shoe-shine boys are among the board members. Every worker pays a license fee and cess charges with their permission getting renewed every three years.

The shoe shine boys have been a part of a number of campaigns even in the past. A few years ago, on western railway, they were trained in first aid too.

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