The Indian Railways is set to extend its ‘Give it up’ scheme to include other concession holders to offset its nearly Rs 33,000-crore subsidy burden in annual passenger fares.
The decision was taken after figures showed that following the introduction of the scheme last year by which senior citizens can opt to give up 50 per cent of their fare subsidy, more than 19 lakh people gave up the concession, resulting in a saving of more than Rs 32 crore between July 22, 2017, and March 31, 2018 for the railways.
“We realised that in 2016 when we were telling people to give up their concession by 100 per cent, many did not do. In 2017, when we gave them the option of giving up 50 per cent, many came forward,” a Railway Ministry official said.
“This is completely voluntary and now we’re preparing a campaign to encourage more such concession holders to come forward,” the official said.
Railways extends passenger fare concessions in 53 categories, which include passengers with disabilities, cancer, thalassemia, heart and kidney patients, war widows students and others, incurring a loss of about Rs 33,000 crore annually.
As part of its campaign to encourage people in these categories to give up their subsidy, even if in parts, the railways will send each senior citizen, who gave up their subsidy, a personalised letter by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
It is also in the process of setting up a website on which it will update realtime, not only the money saved by the railways, but also the data on senior citizens who gave up their subsidy.
The website will also carry testimonials from them. “Plans are afoot to send newsletters to these senior citizens, felicitation of some of them by the minister, SMSes thanking them for their efforts and a special token of appreciation for them by the train crew during their train journeys,” the official said, explaining the campaign.
The idea, the official said, is to create awareness and encourage more people to give up the concession on fares.
Between July 2017 and March 31, 2018 more than 10 lakh senior citizens had given up 100 per cent of their concession, while more than nine lakh had given up 50 per cent of their concession, resulting in a saving of more than Rs 32.30 crore.
In total, since August 2016, when senior citizens had the option to give up 100 per cent of their subsidy, until March 2018, 40 lakh of them have given up their subsidy, allowing the national transporter to save around Rs 77 crore.>