mid-day editorial: Railway canteen reforms must get wider berth
It is 'Don't pay up? Will shut down' for Western Railway (WR) and BMC. In a major crackdown, WR has decided to shut down nearly 378 canteen stalls over non-payment of water bills amounting to Rs 10 crore
It is 'Don't pay up? Will shut down' for Western Railway (WR) and BMC. In a major crackdown, WR has decided to shut down nearly 378 canteen stalls over non-payment of water bills amounting to Rs 10 crore. The defaulting canteen stalls will be shut down in a phased manner. Approximately 37 stalls between Churchgate and Virar have already been sealed.
The drive has started with WR already sealing about six canteens at Marine Lines station last week. In fact, the defaulting has had an effect on the railways, because authorities themselves owe the BMC water bills to the tune of Rs 100 crore. Whatever the issue, it is time that stalls on railway platforms are regulated and all problems are solved, so that these run in a smooth manner with the dues paid on time. One has to see that the stalls comply with safety norms, especially those selling foodstuff.
Hygiene inspectors need to make surprise checks at these stalls, to ensure that bottled water is not adulterated and cleanliness standards are set and met. Have a dedicated panel within the railways to ensure certain yardsticks that have been laid down for them are adhered to, as these stalls service lakhs of commuters every day.
Reports also say that the stalls seem to have eaten into platform space, making movement difficult or obstructing it for commuters. Demarcated zones within stations would be a good idea in order for them to function as required and not disrupt crowd movement.
While plugging the defaulting loophole is absolutely important, this can be a springboard for a wider scrutiny and a general clean-up of the system, in order to see that all of these stalls function smoothly and safely for the crush and rush of the general public.