Metro Railway stations stood in contrast to a city full of dirty walls till minister Madan Mitra’s union decided to break with the tradition and the authorities turned a blind eye to the violation.
Posters of warring unions are competing for vantage positions across stations for the first elections of Metro’s employees’ unions spread across Thursday and Friday.
The posters of a smiling Mitra, asking voters with folded hands to vote for the Metro Railway Pragatishil Shramik Karmachari Union, affiliated to the Trinamul trade union wing INTTUC, have defiled walls, pillars and flap gates of several stations on the elevated section, including Netaji (Kudghat), Masterda Surya Sen (Bansdroni), Gitanjali (Naktala), Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazar) and Shahid Khudiram (Birji).
Posters of the rival Congress-backed Metro Railway Workers’ Congress (MRWC) were also seen at some stations.
Metro, which had on April 20 highlighted the eyesores, presents the rules and a reality check. What is the punishment for defacing walls at Metro stations?
Metro rules prohibit posters on its premises. If a passenger pastes a poster on a Metro station wall, he or she is fined Rs 500 and the poster torn off immediately. “It’s the same fine slapped on a person for spitting or making the station dirty,” said a Metro official. The person can be imprisoned if he/she is unable to pay the fine.
nWhy Metro is sparing its men?
Sources said several meetings were held between representatives of unions and the Metro authorities over the posters. The unions turned down requests to remove the posters and the authorities were unable to take any action.
“In Bengal, it’s extremely difficult to tackle a union, especially if it belongs to the ruling party. The union leaders have promised that they would remove the posters once the elections are over on Friday,” said an official.
This is a problem across the state where employees’ unions force the authorities to bend rules.
“We are looking into the problem. If we find such posters, those will be removed immediately,” said Radhey Shyam, general manager, Metro Railway.
Minister Mitra, who is contesting for the president’s post of the union, said: “It is not only about my picture. There are pictures of others…. There may be a fine if people put up posters but we had taken a special permission to put up posters for the elections. The elections would be over in a day. After that we will remove the posters ourselves.”
A Metro Railway official denied that any employees’ organisation has been allowed to put up posters.