The image of people squatting and defecating along railway tracks is synonymous with train travel in India. But things could change soon, with the Central Railways (CR) issuing a diktat that will allow authorities to fine those caught relieving themselves on the train tracks.
The CR authorities have painted huge boards along the railway tracks, dissuading the public from littering and spoiling the railways’ property, and warning that doing so will attract a fine of Rs 500. Every morning, scores of people from nearby slums are found squatting along the tracks, making it an ugly site for commuters.
The authorities had a tough time deciding on which people were to be given the responsibility of conducting regular checks, as the job entails reporting early to catch those who arrive for their morning ritual. “People are normally found defecating next to rail tracks around 6 am. We are thinking about which officials can be sent to levy fines,” said a senior CR official. After deliberations, the officials decided that stationmasters and station managers should send personnel from their offices to fine the culprits.
Officials decreed that the railway police should accompany the workers to help them if problems cropped up. “There is scope of backlash from people and so we will also ask the railway police to deploy some of their officers to accompany those sent from the station master’s office,” said the CR official.
So far, the CR authorities have put up about 150 notifications along 40 different locations on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-Kalyan stretch. Some of the most affected areas include CST, Masjid, Sandhurst Road, Sion, Kurla, Vikhroli, and Thane.
Railway authorities have already started imposing fines at railway stations, but the drive is yet to pick up speed. The ministry of railways has also issued a notification spelling out the prohibition of activities affecting cleanliness and hygiene on the railway premises, and penalties that could be levied for flouting these rules (see box). Station managers or any officials above the rank of ticket collector (TC) have been notified to keep a check on passengers seen littering trains and platforms.
A price to pay
The CR can levy a fine of Rs 500 on any person found littering station premises. Rules also prohibit cooking, bathing, spitting, urinating, defecating, feeding animal or birds, repairing or washing vehicles, washing utensils or clothes or any other objects, or keeping any type of storage on railway premises. It will also restrict the pasting of unauthorised posters on railway compartments, station premises, or drawing and writing on the same. Officials authorised to collect fine include stationmaster or an officer above the rank of ticket collector, or any officer authorised by the administration.