After GM’s Inspection, mess back at Railway Station

Bhathinda Jn (BTI):  With tracks strewn with garbage, railway protection force assistance room locked, non-functional taps, Bathinda junction seems to have gone back to its old ways. Barely a week after the junction was cleaned and made spick and span for the inspection visit of the General Manager of the Northern Railways, it has got back its old face.

Kiosks selling tobacco products lining the boundary wall, vehicles parked right in front of the ‘No Parking’ board opposite to the ticket window and several other blatantly flouted rules would not make one believe that all these were not to be seen anywhere a week ago when the station was being readied for the inspection visit.

When visited, it found the RPF assistance room locked. RPF inspector, RK Kanojia, said, “We are short-staffed and have only three RPF personnel for the assistance room. Two of them are on leave and the third one comes in the evening shift.”

He also maintained that removing the kiosks lining the outer boundary wall of the junction was not the work of the RPF. “Our area of jurisdiction ends with the boundary wall. We can’t control the activity outside the boundary wall of the junction,” Kanojia said.

The Bathinda junction may be Asia’s biggest junction but that doesn’t help it from facing an acute sanitation problem. While the contract of the earlier firm handling the sanitation work ended on August 25, the railway authorities floated a new tender on August 12. As the new tender is yet to be given to a firm, the station is relying on temporary solution.

“Sanitation is a major problem at the station. We have only 20 cleaners, hired on contract, to take care of the station. While 12 of them work during the day time, four work during the evening and the other four work during night shift. Littering by the passengers due to lack of civic sense is another big problem here,” said the station superintendent, Pradeep Sharma.

Talking about the anti-social elements roaming around the station, he stated that the boundary wall of the junction was like the India-Pakistan border. “There’s a tussle between the Railway Protection Force and the civil police personnel regarding the issue of security just outside the railway station. While the RPF says it is not liable for what’s happening right outside the boundary of the station, the civil police say it is not its headache,” said Sharma.

“If we need to get rid of the anti-social elements and the unauthorised kiosks lining the outside of the junction boundary wall, both the RPF and the civil police will have to work in tandem. If all of us will keep rolling the ball in the others’ court, the blame game will never stop,” he added.

No water at railway station

As the city reeled under a prolonged power-cut, 10 am to 5 pm, on Thursday, the Bathinda Junction reeled under a water crisis. By the end of the day, the taps at the station had started running dry. “We are waiting for the resumption of power supply so that we can fill the tanks. I have also asked workers to go around the junction and check if any of the taps have been left on,” said the station superintendent.