As the Indian Railways begin a major clean-up drive before Gandhi Jayanti, officials debate the best way to keep people from soiling the station premises
As Gandhi Jayanti approaches, the Indian Railways is on the front foot, attempting to get its stations cleaned up in honour of the man who always believed in cleanliness M K Gandhi.
Fed up of cleaning up after commuters who litter and spit on railway premises, employees are now demanding that offenders now be made to clean up after themselves
Ground staff, who can be spotted collecting trash and scrubbing out paan stains every day, are now demanding that the railway authorities bring in stricter regulations and penalties for those who litter or soil the stations.
Currently, stationmasters have the power to fine offenders caught spoiling the railway station premises. “We penalise offenders with a fine of R500. We are also looking at making implementation of the penalty system more stringent,” said Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Western Railway.
The cleaning drive involves backbreaking work for the staff, who have to collect strewn wrappers of snacks and other filth manually, or remove paan and spit stains from foot over bridges and platforms.
They believe that people will continue to commit such offences until they are made to realise how hard it is to clean up later. And so, some of them have suggested that instead of simply levying fines, the offenders should be made to clean up after themselves.
“These offenders should be asked to clean up as well, if they are caught spitting or littering. This should happen in front of the public,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity. In fact, at certain smaller stations, this tactic was used on trial basis. However, others feel that it is a difficult approach.
“It is difficult to implement such an initiative, as people might protest,” said Divisional Railway Manager, Central Railway (Mumbai), Mukesh Nigam. However, the officials claim that they are taking efforts to ensure that there is sufficient cleanliness maintained at stations.
Recently, Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda announced a budget of Rs 5 crore to Rs 15 crore to clean more than 50 stations. But, it still remains to be seen how the railways plan to prevent the stations from getting dirty again.