Huge dip in Rail Survey rankings on Station Cleanliness disputed on Tiruchchirappalli Division

Station Managers hold key to salvaging lost glory: says Rail Users

A survey report by the Quality Council of India, released by the Ministry of Railways on Wednesday rating the cleanliness of stations in the country has disappointed commuters in Trichy division as most stations under it have fared poorly this year. Kumbakonam which was adjudged the fifth cleanest railway station in the country last year slipped to 40th position while Trichy, Thanjavur junctions and Mayiladuthurai also went down. Meanwhile, members of rail users associations have raised doubts about the way the survey was conducted since no drastic changes had occurred in these stations in a year.

Though the temple town of Kumbakonam plunged to 40 in national ranking for cleanliness, it retained the top position in south zone ranking. Villupuram station which secured the 110th rank was placed ninth in zonal level followed by Trichy railway junction.

Trichy which came within 15 ranks last year plummeted to 137 this year and 13th at zonal level. Thanjavur, which also falls under Trichy division, got the 158th rank in the country and 18th at zonal level. Mayiladuthurai, another station coming under the division, got the 323rd all India rank while it stood 45th at the zonal level.

Meanwhile, A Giri, vice-president, Thanjavur District Rail Users Association, said that no drastic change was effected in the cleaning work at Kumbakonam station in the past one year. Railways had not provided any advanced equipment to improve the present condition of the station. However, the cleaning work was carried out at par with the previous year. A health official in Kumbakonam station said they were shocked to hear that the station’s ranking had dipped to 40. “We have been doing the same thing that we did during the previous year. However we lost the ranking. We don’t know how it happened”, he said.

Station managers and health officials need to buckle up and monitor the cleaning work undertaken by private contractors if railway stations in Trichy and Kumbakonam are to salvage their lost glory. They should also coordinate with civic authorities in keeping areas outside stations clean. These were some of the opinions aired by passengers and other stake holders on the stunning plunge taken by stations in the Trichy division in the Swachh cleanliness survey released recently.

The report released by railways had rated the cleanliness of station premises of Trichy as well as Kumbakonam railway stations as better but not the surroundings. Since the cleaning operation is done by private contractors, passengers say better supervision by the respective station manager and health officials is necessary.

“The scores clearly state that there is no problem with the inside of the stations as shown by the 85.09 per cent scored by the main platform and waiting rooms. However, the main entry managed to get only 50.05 percent while it was a mere 30.03 percent for parking area,” said Deva, a regular passenger at Trichy. The authorities should spread their vision and execute the work according to the needs of a railway junction, he said.

Since cleaning operation is undertaken by private contractors at the major stations, railways should have better coordination with civic authorities in providing cleanliness outside the station. Similarly, the drainage should be connected to the corporation’s underground drainage system wherever it has not been done. Kumbakonam ranking was dragged down because of the mosquito menace”, said A Giri, vice-president, Thanjavur District Rail Users Association.

It is pointed out that Trichy junction secured the best station award 20 years ago. What bogs down the station now is the large number of shops which needs to be reduced. Washing of trains also must be done during the night instead of mornings. “Trichy looks crowded because of too many advertisement hoardings and boards. Thanks to the senior divisional commercial manager’s efforts, the posters have come down. It should be completely removed,” says S Pushpavanam, secretary of Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu. “Passengers can be educated but only if railways keep dustbins will they dump the garbage there. There is no point in educating passengers without keeping dust bins”, he added.

Railways should provide additional facilities in top ranking station for imparting cleanliness from their own budget without being under the mercy of MPLADs, Giri added. “Instead of going for an advertisement on train tickets and reservation forms, they can come out with cleanliness awareness in that space. Railways can engage NSS volunteers from schools and colleges to bring about more awareness on cleanliness among rail users”, he further said.

A regular commuter, Jegan, 25, from Deeran Nagar said priority should be given for establishing rest rooms on all platforms. The next priority should be for purified drinking water kiosks. ” In Trichy we have only two, that too on platform number one only. That is not enough,” he said. “A mechanism needs to be there to curb usage of toilets on trains at platforms. All these are possible only if the travelling public comply with railway’s requests”, he further said.