After its move to permit private investments to redevelop its 168 schools boomeranged, the railways have promptly dropped plans to farm out other “non-core” activities such as running hospitals and sponsoring the work of the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
In October, railway minister Suresh Prabhu shot out letters to chief ministers, offering land and facilities of railway schools attended by children of non-railway employees for joint re-development by either state agencies or private investors. Education is provided to 27,216 children of railway employees and 38,441 wards of non-railway employees at these schools.
“The response from the states has been lukewarm, as these schools are mostly located in far-flung and remote areas. The idea has not taken off. No plans to outsource activities of the RPF or the Railway Medical Services (RMS) are being considered,” ministry sources said.
Recommending that zonal general managers be empowered to choose between RPF and private security personnel, the 2015 Dr Bibek Debroy Committee suggested outsourcing health services and the business of running schools be dropped as a measure to reduce flab.
Railways run 125 hospitals and 586 health units, with a staff of 2,597 medical officers and 54,000 paramedical personnel, attending to an estimated 85 lakh beneficiaries.