CRB assures NGT of Clean Tracks and Platforms

Plans to erect boundary wall along tracks by March 31, 2018

New Delhi: Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal on Wednesday assured the National Green Tribunal that the railway tracks and platforms have improved and will improve further.

He further said that there were plans to erect boundary wall along the tracks in the Delhi area by March 31, 2018.

Appearing before the NGT Bench headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, Mr. Mittal assured the Tribunal of his commitment towards cleaning the tracks and other railway property.

The counsel for Railways, Om Prakash, informed the Tribunal that Rs. 1.4 crore has already been allocated for repairing the wall along the 163-km in the area.

Already, Rs.25 lakh and Rs.40 lakh had been released for developing green areas around the Delhi and New Delhi areas.

On Thursday, A.K. Puthia, General Manager, Northern Railway, along with Arun Arora, Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi, and a team of senior officers will inspect the stations and track between the New Delhi and Azadpur railway stations to assess the impact of steps taken for cleanliness.

Besides Mr. Mittal, commissioners of all municipal corporations appeared before the NGT which was critical of their failure in cleaning railway tracks and properties.

On Wednesday morning, the Bench summoned the commissioners and the CEO of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to be present at the in-chamber hearing. The Railways said it had identified 46 locations for MCD to install dustbins.

The corporations are drawing up a plan to work with the Railways for clearing the municipal solid waste of its property.

Counsel for municipal corporations Balendu Shekhar said the civic bodies will do what is required of them.

The Railways has been pressing DUSIB to remove encroachments, particularly those which have cropped up in the last six months at Shahdara and Patel Nagar .

Besides , 65 permanent dwellers in and around Azadpur station have been served notices by the Railways under the Polluter Pays Principle for littering and dirtying railway property.

The Railways said it has to erect boundary wall along 273 km track in the Delhi area. Boundary wall exists along 163 km and needs repair for which Rs. 1.4 crore has already been sanctioned.

Mr. Prakash said due to severe encroachments, boundary wall cannot be erected along 22 km. The remaining 88 km stretch is under administrative consideration.

He said that 4,900 jhuggies have been removed till 2013.

National Green Tribunal (Southern Bench) warns officials of Southern Railway and Chennai Corporation

In an another move, the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday warned that it would consider issuing warrant against officials of Southern Railway and Chennai Corporation if they fail to appear before it on Thursday in connection with a petition to stop open defecation and urination in Chennai.

The petition was moved by S P Surendranath Karthik of Madipakkam seeking action to stop open defecation in the city. Petitioner alleged that despite Chennai having a population of around 6.5 million, there were only 900 public toilets available and of this only 500 were in good shape. He further stated that people relieved themselves next to the railway tracks between Old Washermanpet and Vyasarpadi.

The Tribunal had summoned officials of Southern Railway and Chennai Corporation on Tuesday in connection with the case. As they failed to appear, the Bench comprising judicial member Justice M Chockalingam and expert member R Nagendran, warned that bailable warrant would be issued if the officials do not appear for the next hearing.

NGT Order on Clean Railways Lauded

Many have hailed as significant the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order to the Indian Railways to take steps to maintain cleanliness, including fining offenders `5,000 for littering platforms and tracks.

The NGT order of March 18 also directed the railway authorities to place dustbins on platforms, collect and transport waste to treatment plants instead of directly releasing it into the sewer system and to install mobile toilets near slum clusters alongside railway tracks.

Garbage collection using dustbins and disposal of collected waste with the help of local body are already being done in most railway stations, said an official. “The levying of a fine of `5,000 will definitely be useful in preventing passengers from throwing waste just about anywhere. It will create some fear about disregarding rules. However, construction of mobile toilets in slum areas is not practical, as it would need more planning, besides funds,” he added.

Jameel Ahmed, president, Coimbatore Railway Users’ Welfare Association, hailed the move to fining those who litter station premises. “Passengers do not have the patience to look for a dustbin and throw the waste where they stand. They are still not aware of their role and responsibility in maintaining a clean environment. The hefty fine will yield the expected result and restrain passengers from littering. With proper implementation, it will change their attitude,” he said.

“Spitting and urination are also major problems coming in the way of hygienic environments at railway stations,” said Balaji, a frequent railway user. “It can be controlled by imposing a heavy fine. After people were fined for smoking in trains, the practice has almost stopped. The fine will help end littering too. Strict enforcement of rules is important to get better results, which is the objective of the NGT’s order,” he added.

However, it will take the railway authorities some time to implement it.  “The existing rules of the Railways do not allow fining passengers for littering station premises or tracks. Based on the order from NGT, a feasibility study has to be conducted on it,” said Salem Divisional Railway Manager Shubhranshu. “The new rules would be put into force based on the results of the study. However, we have to wait for further developments regarding the order,” he added.