With election fever on the rise, the city will get its first air-conditioned toilet at Thane railway station albeit, without a formal inauguration. Although authorities are yet to decide on a date for the inauguration, the Central Railway is likely to throw it open for public use soon as the toilet is ready, save for some plumbing work.
Thane is among the busiest stations with a footfall of 6.54 lakh per day. Work on the new AC toilet has been underway for the past several days now. “We will now open it without a ribbon-cutting ceremony as it is almost ready,” said a CR official.
The model code of conduct came into effect on September 12 for the upcoming state elections which will be held in October. Authorities claim that the ‘futuristic toilet’ is part of the new, improved infrastructure.
Sources, however, say the timing of the inauguration seems like a calculated move, especially considering that the Indian Railways will kick off a cleaning spree in stations on October 2. As per the directive, private housekeeping and maintenance firms are also roped in for the cleanliness programme for which major stations will be allotted around Rs 5-15 crore.
Senior Railway Board member DP Pande, along with other Central and Western Railways officials, held meetings with these private firms in Mumbai, only a few days ago. “These private companies asked us to provide better infrastructure at the stations before they can bring their high-end machines to clean the station premises.
We think the AC toilet will be a good start,” said another railway official. The new toilet at platform 2 of Thane station comes with bathing facilities as well. Commuters will be charged Rs 1 to use the facility.