Bhubaneswar: Affluent AC passengers are the prime suspects as over thousands of towels, bed sheets, blankets and other items went missing from air-conditioned coaches of trains under the East Coast Railways (ECoR) during 2017-18, an official said.
The ECoR, considered one of the blue chip zones of Indian Railways, covers almost all parts of Odisha and some places of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The ECoR has registered 43,318 towels, 23,197 bedsheets, 8,060 pillow covers, and 2,260 blankets were stolen from various long-route trains, the official added.
The passengers are suspected to have made off with precisely 21,72,246 “bedroll items” — including 12,83,415 hand towels, 4,71,077 bedsheets and 3,14,952 pillow covers — from trains across the country in 2017-18 fiscal.
Besides, the Railways found 56,287 pillows and 46,515 blankets missing from the AC coaches in this period.
“Together, the missing items are estimated to cost over Rs 14 crore,” a source said.
This apart, toilet mugs, taps, flush pipes and mirrors are also reportedly missing at various trains on a regular basis.
Among the 16 zones of Indian Railways, the Southern zone alone accounted for the theft of 2,04,113 hand towels, 29,573 bedsheets, 44,868 pillow covers, 3,713 pillows and 2,745 blankets.
In the light of the thefts, especially of towels, the Railways has decided that the face towels given to passengers travelling in air-conditioned coaches will be replaced with cheaper, smaller, disposable, takeaway napkins, said the official.