Illegal hawkers have encroached upon large parts of the premises; station authorities say complaints to RPF officers have fallen on deaf ears
It's business as usual at Kalyan railway station. Only it's illegal. For the last six months, station officials claim to have issued 200 memoranda (copies of some available with MiD DAY) to the Railway Protection Force (RPF), seeking action against the large number of hawkers who have encroached upon many parts of the premises. Nothing has changed.
Omnipresent: This reporter visited the railway station, only to find
hawkers at virtually every step of the way at platforms, foot overbridges
and railway premises. Pics/Navneet Barhate
Sources say these hawkers are the 'cash cow' for several RPF officers. On Monday, this reporter visited the railway station, only to find hawkers at virtually every step of the way at platforms, foot overbridges and railway premises.
They sell myriad wares like t-shirts, paints, electronic goods, fruits, snacks, tea, eggs, CDs, bottles of water, newspapers, vegetables etc. The hawkers also deal in banned gutkha and cigarettes. Some of them are minor girls.
Ignorance is bliss!
"We have regularly issued memos to RPF but these officials have been ignoring the problem," said a deputy station manager on condition of anonymity.
Kalyan is one of the busiest stations of Central Railway. According to railway sources there are some kingpins behind these illegal hawkers. They run these rackets in Mumbai too and earn lakhs of rupees. They allegedly pay monthly hafta to some RPF officers.
Even the ticket-checking staff is overwrought because of the hawkers. "Kalyan station is generally overcrowded. It is the hawkers who are making things worse. They are enjoying the backing of RPF," said a TC.
On April 1, 2008, a 12m long foot overbridge was inaugurated here for the convenience of commuters. Now hawkers have virtually taken it over.
A daily commuter Geeta Sharma, who lost her bags last month at the railway station said, "Hawkers have captured the foot overbridges making it difficult for us to walk and creating opportunities for pickpockets and snatchers."
"There are RPF, Government Railway Police, Crime Branch and Intelligence Bureau offices at the railway station. What are they doing?" asked a vigilance officer, who did not wish to be named.
When contacted, station manager OP Karothia refused to comment on the issue.
The other side
RR Pandav, senior inspector, Kalyan RPF said, "Aisi baat nahi hai. Actually this is a jurisdiction problem between railways and Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). Even we are short staffed. If my officers go to toilet or for tea, these hawkers return again."