Indian Railways has asked its officials to do away with a British-era practice of using Dak (personal) messengers with immediate effect and advance video conferencing as an alternative.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a suspension of the railway network, dealing a major blow to revenues which slid by nearly 58 percent in May. Ever since, the railroad has been taking measures to trim expenditures.
“As a measure to reduce costs and improve savings on establishment-related expenditures, the board has desired that all discussion among officials of the Railways, PUs, and railway board should be invariably held over video conferencing, accordingly booking of personal messenger/Dak messenger should be stopped immediately", the railway board stated.
The move will affect 5,000 Dak messengers who receive an allowance and several perks, apart from salaries. The establishment spend about 100 million Indian rupees ($1,337,301) on their allowances annually.
Once considered crucial for their roles of ferrying secret and confidential information within the hierarchy, the messengers were rampantly being misused to run personal errands for some employees, stated an official.
Earlier, the railways asked zones to review contracts, shrink energy consumption, and cut costs in administrative areas. The establishment also reduced the staff strength by at least 25 percent, freezing new job creations post-COVID-19 outbreak to reduce costs.