Strike effect: Bangalore Metro ropes in ex-armymen

BENGALURU: The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation is quietly working on setting up a Quick Response Team (QRT), which will take over the operations of Namma Metroin the event of a flash strike by employees. The training of personnel identified to be part of the QRT began on Wednesday.

The July 7 snap strike saw Metro train services come to a complete standstill for more than seven hours, affecting thousands of people and costing the BMRC Rs 25 lakh.

BMRC managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola said at a 25-minute meeting on Wednesday that the response team will be made up of exservicemen, 106 of whom are already working in BMRC.While their training has begun, the corporation has also decided to rope in home guards to be part of the team. The meeting began with a one minute silence to mourn the death of BMRC employee Anand. Kharola told the ex-servicemen: “We have people from the services. What’s common to all of you is discipline. Whatever the problem is, the man in uniform will always do his duty .” Before urging them to ensure smooth operations, Kharola said Metro has entered operations phase and that required high level of discipline.

“Every day about 3 lakh people use our services. Even a half-minute delay or disruption causes a lot of inconvenience. Even BMTC does public service, but what’s unique is metro needs to have extremely high level of discipline,” Kharola told ex-servicemen and other senior BMRC officials.

Stating that Metro functions in a systematic way , he said: “Just a few days ago, we were woken up from the slumber. In our system there should not be a possibility of trains not running. Metro system collapsing means collapse of city life; we got a taste of it last week.”

Anticipating a repeat of such an event, Kharola said the management cannot display inaction.”We’ve to intervene. And we are getting ready for that. Under no circumstance should we allow the trains to remain stationary ,” he said. Based on their competence, the ex-servicemen will be given duties like train operations, station control or maintenance which they will perform in emergency .

“Your working hours will be reduced from today and you will train for two hours everyday . An operator will require four months of training, while two months are enough for station controllers and maintenance staff. All of you will be provided Rs 5,000 as stipend for the months you train,” Kharola told them. Those being roped in for the response team must do their regular jobs and also be ready for emergencies. “As men in uniform you know how important practice is. So you will all be required to perform your new duties at least twice amonth. For this, you will get paid Rs 1,000 per extra shift,” he said.

Whether any person could be trained to become an operator, Commissioner for Railway Safety KA Manoharan said: “There is a prescribed training manual which needs to be completed. They will have to clear an exam and also give an interview before a committee that will give them a certificate.”

Confirming the new plan, Kharola told TOI later: “I don’t want to elaborate much at this juncture, but all that we are doing is to ensure that the people do not suffer.”