The Railways has decided to do away with a British- era practice of sending confidential documents via personal or Dak messengers and instructed zones to move to communication via videoconferencing. This is the latest in a string of instructions for zonal railways to cut costs.
“As a measure to reduce cost and improve savings on establishment related expenditure, the Board has desired that all discussions amongst officials of Railways PSU /Railway Board should invariably be held over video conferencing accordingly booking of personal messenger/Dak messenger should be stopped immediately.
“Compliance of the above should be ensured, as it would lead significant savings in allowances, stationery, Fax etc.,” the order dated July 24 to the zones stated.
These dak messengers are usually peons who are identified and given the responsibility of ferrying files, documents of sensitive nature across the Railways’ network — from Railway Board to its various departments, to its zones and divisions. This was introduced by the British when there was no internet or email.
Earlier, the Railways had called for a freeze in the creation of new posts, rationalisation of manpower at workshops, shifting outsourced work to CSR, moving ceremonial functions to digital platforms.
It also advised the zones to control expenditure by reducing staff cost, rationalising staff and also by making them perform multiple tasks. It further asked the zones to review contracts, reduce energy consumption and cut cost in administrative and other areas.
The Railways also instructed that all file work be moved to the digital sphere and advised that all correspondence must be done through secure e-mails and asked them to reduce the use of stationery articles, cartridges and other items by at least 50 per cent. It asked the zones to review and close all uneconomic branches of the ministry.
While most communication by officials are currently done by email, the Dak messengers are as good as obsolete, say officials. With the latest direction, their use has been officially brought to an end.