New Delhi: Indian Railways has lost around 700 frontline workers, among the 30,000 infected with COVID-19 in the last nine months, according to sources who said that most of those who lost their lives were working amid the general public to facilitate the running of trains during the pandemic.
Railway Board Chairman, in a press briefing on Friday, had said that around 30,000 railway employees have been infected with coronavirus so far and hailed their sacrifice for the public during the pandemic.
"It is true that around 30,000 railway employees were infected with COVID. However, the way that we have developed and provided treatment to our employees, most of them have recovered. However, there have been some unfortunate deaths. Railway has opened COVID care centres and COVID care facilities in every zone and division and we have taken care of each one of our employees.
"In the beginning we had dedicated 50 hospitals for COVID care now there are 74 such hospitals," Yadav had said on Friday.
Sources on Saturday said that the death toll is around 700.
"Most of the 700 employees who died due to coronavirus were all who were involved in direct interaction with the general public and most susceptible to the disease. They were frontline workers who helped the Railways facilitate the movement of migrants and run the special trains. They were on platforms and in areas were catching the infection was most probable. They are like railways' unsung heroes," the source said.
In a reply in Parliament, the Railway Ministry had said no compensation is granted to the families of the railway employees who die during performance of their bona fide duties. The compensation is granted in the form of ex gratia payment as per the guidelines of the Department of Pension and Pensioners Welfare. However, death on account of any disease is not included in these guidelines.
While no breakup of the 30,000 infected is currently available, in a reply to a question on the issue in Parliament in September, the ministry had provided details of 336 deaths among railway employees and 14,714 who were infected.
According to the reply, a maximum of over 2,200 infections were reported by the South Central Railway, followed by 1,323 cases in the Central Railway, 1,307 in the Northern Railway, 1,145 in the Southern Railway and 1,013 cases in the East Central Railway.
India's COVID-19 caseload surpassed the one-crore mark on Saturday, adding 10 lakh cases in nearly a month, while the total number of recoveries surged to 95.50 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data.