SHE WORKS IN A 12-HR SHIFT AND CARRIES AN ABOUT 20-KG BAG ON HER BACK WHILE MOVING IN HER 5 KM AREA OF OPERATION
While travelling in a train we seldom think about the Herculean efforts put in by railway personnel to ensure fitness of rail tracks for our safe journey.
Feroza Bano, 50, is the first trackwoman of Northern Railways (NR) in Uttar Pradesh.
One of them is Feroza Bano, 50, who is the first trackwoman of Northern Railways (NR) in Uttar Pradesh.
After storming the male bastion (as the NR had only trackmen in UP before she joined), Bano did not have it easy in her job. She works in a 12-hr shift and carries an about 20-kg bag on her back (heavy tools, blast crackers etc in it) while moving between Charbagh and Utrethia– her 5 km area of operation — even as trains keep passing her on adjacent railway lines. A little slip-up can be dangerous.
Getting the job in 2004, after her husband Haider went missing in 2001, was not easy as she had to run from pillar to post to convince officials that she needed it and deserved it too.
Once appointed, Bano amply proved that women can work as efficiently as men even in maledominated areas. Initially, her male colleagues were not ready to accept her on the railway tracks. But as time passed they realised that she was a better worker than many of them.
“Her commitment to her job, with trains whizzing past, is commendable. And carrying heavy equipment on her back while patrolling an area of around 5 km is not easy,” said SK Sharma, Charbagh station superintendent.
However, for Bano hard work is part of life. “If I have to survive, I have to work. After all, God has given me the role of ensuring safe travel for thousands of people,” she said. With a feeling of pride, she says: “From Utrethia to Charbagh, I have to ensure fitness and renewal of tracks, packing of sleepers, tightening of bolts and coordination with signals before movement of each train.”
Her job also involves laying, maintaining and cleaning the tracks and repairing fishplates.
Fondly called ‘Feroza Aapa’ by her colleagues who live in her Alambagh Railway Colony compound, Bano has an important personal works to complete.
“I have six daughters, four of them are married. I have to settle the other two also next year before retirement. I was not able to educate them properly because trackwomen are not paid that well,” she said.