Trains face the risk of getting stuck in garbage. File pic
The Railways' thrust on cleanliness may turn out to be only lip service. The first merged Union and Railway Budget presented yesterday proposed boil-toilets in all train coaches by 2019 and the launch of an SMS-based clean-my-coach service. But railway officials point out that little can be achieved on the ground without the help of civic bodies.
But, civic bodies in Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan and Vasai-Virar have thrown a spoke in the wheels repeatedly. Rarely are the heaps of garbage or slums lining railway tracks cleared.
Railway officials feel that the only recourse now is a plea to the state chief secretary.
Wheels of a train at high speeds can get stuck in garbage, or worse, loosen. Although such a scenario is unlikely to cause derailments, re-railing wheels takes hours. This can delay a number of train services.
"We have asked the BMC, the Thane Municipal Corporation and the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation to clear the heaps of litter along the tracks. Why cannot they help us? We have posted hundreds of men along the tracks for clean-ups, but there are thousands of unauthorised slums along the tracks whose occupants discard waste right there. We are also asking people's representatives in hopes of getting through the message of cleanliness to the public," said DK Sharma, general manager, Central Railway (CR).
'Not just our job'
Officials say it's as much the duty of the state government and civic bodies to keep tracks clean as it is of the Railways. "Contract workers clear stations and a 1-km radius on either side of plastic waste and bottles. We have approached the BMC and other municipal corporations to address open defecation along tracks," said G Agrawal, general manager, Western Railway. The CR says it has outsourced mechanised cleaning of 10 stations. "We will outsource work of nine more stations soon," said Sharma.
Quantity (in cubic metres) of muck cleared from tracks in 2016
Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Thane station, Bandra Terminus and Mumbai Central will be redeveloped on the lines of Andheri station. Expect swanky concourses and escalators at these stations soon. Redevelopment of a station costs Rs 100-150 crore.