Armed with new rule, Railways gets stern with litterbugs

The idea of clean trains and stations is fast gaining prominence on the Railways’ agenda. Armed with a new rule, about 10,000 passengers from across the country have been fined for littering since January, leading to a collection of Rs 10.5 lakh as fine. There have been cases where officials have fined passengers for scrawling graffiti on toilet walls.

The rule, Penalties for Activities Affecting Cleanliness at Railway Premises Rules 2012, was notified in the last week of November 2012. Being a new provision, it was not earnestly implemented initially. It picked up pace in January, imposing up to Rs 500 per offence, and started yielding results.

Buoyed by the results, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had said at the general managers’ conference that ended on Thursday that he would go on surprise inspections in all the zones and give the drive further impetus. The general managers have claimed that littering activities have dropped significantly.

“Once we started penalising, the word got around and littering decreased in the subsequent months. The amount of fines collected started dropping. From Rs 15,000 in December 2012, it came down to Rs 11,000 in January and Rs 600 in February,” said an official of South Central Railway based in Andhra Pradesh.

This does not mean that stations and trains are spick and span. Data shows implementation is not even across the zones since many regions are yet to take the rule seriously. While Kolkata Metro officials fined 474 people and collected Rs.1.76 lakh as fine in January, Western Railway, apparently the worst of the lot, collected only Rs 50 as fine in February from one person.

“Messages are being pasted inside trains and at stations about the fines and surprise checks. Whether one gets caught or not, passengers would be littering railways at their own risk now,” said a senior official.