Support shoe-shiners: Gopal Shetty to Western and Central Railway
Mr Shetty claimed that shoe-shiners have been slowly phased out by the Railways, but they have a legitimate right to earn a living. The MLA has let his point of view be known publicly on two occasions, once at Andheri on June 1 when passenger amenities were inaugurated and on June 9 when Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the CR conversion from Direct Current (DC) to Alternate Current (AC).
Mr Shetty has also demanded that the situation of physically disabled be especially considered, “There are around 200 to 300 people who have come to me and said that they want take up jobs as shoe-shiners, but the Railways has been turning them away. They have also been refusing to renew licences of old shoe-shiners. I think it is high time that the Railways helps people who cannot do regular jobs,” he said.
WR currently has about 140 shoe-shiners. It has neither renewed old licences nor handed out new ones since 2010, revealed an officer. Confirming that they got Mr Shetty’s letter, a WR official said, “According to the Railway Board policy since 2010, we neither give new licences nor renew the old ones because it is just too congested on our platforms. But since Mr Shetty has sent us the letter, we will review our policy once again,” said the official.
The CR, on the other hand, has 180 shoe-shiners currently on its mainline and Harbour line, but officials have said that some of the shoe-shiners cause a ruckus on the platforms. “They tend to gang up and behave like touts. It’s another added nuisance,” said a CR official.
Mr Shetty has also asked that the physically-challenged be employed at Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs), but the Railway Board has passed an order six months ago to hire retired personnel as ATVM facilitators.