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How 10 paisa cess may transform lives of 20,000 coolies, bring them under social security net

Your train travel might just get dearer by 10 paisa. But it would bring about a wide smile on the faces of over 20,000 coolies and porters across the country's many railway stations. The central government is planning to bring railway porters under the social security net of the Employees Provident Fund (EPFO). If a proposal sent by the Labour Ministry is accepted, an additional 10 paisa cess may be levied on every railway ticket, which would add Rs 4.38 crore to cover porters and bring them under the EPFO scheme.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A recent visit to Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin station showed us that most of the porters are already excited at the prospect of a steady income under the Centre's scheme. Such was the enthusiasm that nobody even bothered asking how will customers pay 10 paisa, since coins of such a small denomination don't even exist!

Speaking to Firstpost, the coolies — dressed in their bright uniforms and brass licences strapped on their arms — said they are aware of the news. They said they trust the Modi government will successfully implement the scheme to give them all benefits of provident fund. They said they are thankful to the government if the extra money comes their way.

"Nobody has thought about a scheme like this before. A PF scheme for us has come about for the first time. The public won't care if the fares are hiked by 10 paisa. But if the government are to take this money to do some good, then that would make a lot of us very happy. It shows the government cares about us and works to make us happy," one coolie at the Nizamuddin station.

"Boond boond se ghara bharta hai (the ocean comprises many small drops)," said another coolie. "This is a very good step."

We will now have to wait until 1 February to know the fate of the proposal and whether the porters' optimism turns into reality or not. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has had his hands full with currency of larger denominations in recent times, may just have realised the value of a long-forgotten 10 paisa coin, that may yet change the lives of thousands of coolies across the country.

The only problem is, nobody knows how to pay this sum. Maybe the government can bring back a 10 paisa coin?

Updated Date: Jan 05, 2017 20:48 PM

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