Railway officials have approached Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry to help develop facilities at key stations like Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Vikhroli, Kurla and CST
In an attempt to furnish railway stations with topnotch toilet facilities, Central Railway (CR) authorities, in a resolute project, have decided to approach builders, developers and corporate houses to construct posh and hygienic toilets at railway stations. Authorities hope to develop key stations like Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Vikhroli, Kurla and CST. Likewise, toilets on smaller stations will also be developed, if any developer is interested.
Raising a stink: Commuters complain that the conditions of the existing
toilets at stations are so pathetic and filthy that they have to cover their
noses to pass by. File pic
To start with, CR officials are in consultation with Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) hoping that MCHI will negotiate, on their behalf, with top-builders who could build a plush toilet block at railway platforms. "We have spoken to them [members of MCHI] and are hoping for a meeting soon," said a senior CR official on condition on anonymity.
"We want 5-star toilet blocks similar to the ones at shopping malls and theatres. Builders and big corporate houses could afford to develop such a structure, which would also appease commuters," added the CR official.
CR authorities are of the view that builders and corporate bodies who have offices near a particular railway station will show interest in the project. Officials attached to MCHI confirmed that railway officials are in discussions with them but stated that there hasn't been any official communication yet.
Commuters who travel on central line have been grumbling that conditions of existing toilets are so pathetic and dirty that people tend to cover their nose, when passing by them, due to the foul smell emitted. Also many a times, toilets meant for women are locked and closed.
Lata Argade, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh, said, "Not all stations have toilets at every platform. The existing toilets are usually locked and if they are open they are in a bad condition and are mostly infested by beggars and drug addicts."
Meanwhile, developers will construct toilet blocks on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis and will be given advertising rights for a period of five years after which it would be handed back to the railways.
At a recent meeting between commuters organisations headed by MLC Sanjay Kelkar and newly appointed General Manager Subodh Jain of CR, the latter promised them with better quality of toilets at railway stations.
Recently, after joining office, Jain had said that his first priority would be to construct good toilets and that they would get in touch with private developers.
According to a survey-based study conducted in 2010 by ORF, the wretched condition of toilets and urinals at most of the stations on Central line were uncloaked. Commuters -- especially women -- avoid toilets due to their terrible state of neglect. Moreover, the report highlighted that there is a provision for only 355 toilet seats and 673 urinals on the CST to Kasara-Khopoli stretch on the main line and between CST to Panvel on the Harbour Line. It also stated that 93 per cent of the toilets that were found to be 'closed' or 'out of use' were intended for women.
The report also mentions that by the standards of the best suburban railway networks in USA, UK and even China, the Mumbai Suburban Rail Network should have 12,600 toilet seats to serve the needs of its commuters. Thus, the shortfall is more than 12,000 toilet seats. Nearly 37 lakh commuters travel on the Central line everyday.