New Delhi: The railways' plan of providing massage services to its passengers has come under criticism, with Indore MP Shankar Lalwani writing to Union minister Piyush Goyal, saying that it is against Indian culture to offer such services in the presence of women.
A railway official had said on June 8 that the railways was readying to begin the facility in the next couple of weeks in 39 trains departing from Indore.
This is a proposal from the Ratlam division of Western Railway zone, an official said.
The railways is looking to earn an additional revenue of Rs 20 lakh annually and an estimated increase of Rs 90 lakh per year through additional sale of tickets from about 20,000 passenger who will be the service providers.
The BJP parliamentarian claimed he has received feedback from all quarters against this proposed facility, prompting him to write to the Railways minister. He also said local level Railways officers have assured him that the proposal will be reconsidered, adding that the Railway Advisory Committee would also discuss this issue and decide later.
Speaking to News18, the first-time MP wondered how massages will be provided, particularly to those in berths where three passengers sit together, in trains that are jam-packed during summers.
“I am surprised whether this proposed massage facility in front of fellow passengers, especially women, would be decent in accordance with the Indian culture,” he said.
"Providing passengers medical aid, doctors are important for the railways, not these standard less services in my opinion," Lalwani wrote in his letter dated June 10.
The services have been divided into three categories — gold, diamond and platinum. For gold, any non-sticky or olive oil will be used for Rs 100, while the diamond service will be provided for Rs 200 with any essential oil and the platinum package will be with cream for Rs 300. All the services will be provided for 15-20 minutes.
"I can understand this service being provided in tourist trains or even Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains, but not in passenger trains as is being planned. In passenger trains who cares for massages? They are poor people and the journeys last for three to four hours. Who needs a massage there? I think this is completely unnecessary and many women groups here have also complained about it," Lalwani said.
This scheme is part of the railways' scheme whereby zones and divisions have been asked to come out with new and innovative ideas to generate non-fare revenue for the national transporter.