ACENTURY ago the idea of sanitation was advocated by ‘cleanliness crusader’ Mahatma Gandhi. One of his letters, about the conditions in third class railway compartment read: “The service of these filthy and dirty train coaches must be discontinued because it is a threat to physical and moral well being of the people.” He also wrote at length on measures to clean these up.
But to our disappointment, railways have remained, by and large, in the same conditions even after a century. Think of train travel and pictures of utterly dirty platforms, littered railway tracks, walls splashed with spitting of paan-gutkha and tobacco, dirty rail compartments with peanut shells, wrappers of chips, biscuits lying here and there and stinking toilets pop up in your mind. It was almost impossible to visualise a spick and span railways.
But of late, clean railway stations like Gandhi Dham, Surat and Nasik are incredibly replacing that repulsive image. And all this is happening under the ‘Swachh Rail Mission.’
Indian Railways has gone a step ahead of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ initiated by PM Modi by launching Swachh Rail Mission. It is doing a commendable job in this direction.
Union Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu is determined to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of a clean railways. Under the mission, 35,000 bio-toilets have been installed (till March 2016) and 30,000 more will be installed by the end of this year. All 45,000 coaches will get bio-toilets by 2019. Dustbins have been kept in every compartment under ‘Clean My Coach’ service. Along with that, cleanliness at railway platforms and beautification of railway stations are also on the agenda.
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, social reformer, educationist and founder of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, has been designated as brand ambassador of ‘Swachh Rail Mission’ to attain the goal of ‘Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat’. Along with the declaration, he was also felicitated by Prabhu.
His organisation has a long experience in the field of sanitation, therefore it can contribute hugely to a clean railways in achieving the desirable results.
Indian Railways has benefitted from Dr. Pathak’s efforts even before he was chosen brand ambassador. A week dedicated to sanitation in railways was observed under ‘Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat’ mission, in which stations were cleaned and programmes were organised to raise awareness about sanitation habits. The mission was initiated at New Delhi Railway station and five other railway stations, including Gorakhpur, Old Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Gwalior.
The Ministry of Railways keeps organising various sanitation drives to move closer towards achieving their cleanliness goals. It observed ‘Swachh Saptah’ from 17 to 26 September. Previously, it had organised ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’ or ‘cleanliness fortnight; and ran a theme-based cleanliness drive from December 2015 to March 2016 in order to spread awareness in offices, hospitals and factories.
Sardar Patel United Clean India Drive was organised from 11 to 31 October in the year 2015. People were encouraged to give their opinion during ‘Railyatri Upbhokta Pakhwada’, a fortnightly programme for consumers.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu announced Swachh Rail in the rail budget 2016-17. He specially mentioned that clean rail is extremely important to achieve the prospect of clean India. He, in this budget, laid a lot of emphasis on clean stations, dustbins in the coaches and installation of advanced quality toilets in the trains. He also said that portable toilets would be installed at a few platforms in order to meet the requirements of ladies, senior citizens and differently-abled people.
Major railway stations will be equipped with waste segregation and recycling centres. Awareness campaign will also be conducted among people living near railway stations and colonies. Advance technology vacuum bio toilet has been inducted in Dibrugadh Rajdhani. Seventy-four trains have been put into the category of onboard housekeeping service and additional 400 are in the pipeline. The target is 1,000 trains with onboard housekeeping service under this scheme.
Even general coaches are proposed to have vacuum bio toilets, dustbins, water level indicators. Five thousand General Coaches already have these facilities and more will be included in this category. Customer feedback and third party surveys are other schemes to keep the sanitation level at par among various railway stations. A separate department
of ‘Environment and Housekeeping Management’ has been rolled out.
Several other measures have been on this front and the results are gradually showing up.
Clean My Coach Service has been initiated this year primarily in 1,831 trains. You can make a request onboard for cleaning the coach and toilets simply by sending SMS to 58888 or logging on to www.cleanmycoach.com. One can download an app on android phones and send the request. No separate charges will be levied for this service.
Creativity has been at the forefront to transforming railway stations.
Various NGOs have been transforming the paan-stained walls with graffiti.
This idea is having a dual effect. These street art pieces not only add to the beauty of the stations but also spread awareness among people on different social issues.
Sawai Madhopur is the best example
of this experiment. The walls of the station have been beautified by painting pictures of wildlife conservation.
And soon, Hazaribagh, Udaipur and Bikaner stations, along with Borivali and Khar stations on the Mumbai city train service will be dazzling with illustrated walls.
Beautiful Railway Stations abroad
1. Grand Central Terminal,
New York, USA
2. Liege-Guillemins, Belgium
3. St. Pancras International, UK
4. Dunedin Station, New Zealand
5. Milano Centrale, Italy
6. Haydarpasa Terminal, Istanbul
7. Atocha Station, Spain
8. Kuala Lumpur Station, Malaysia
9. Luz Station, Brazil
10. Caminho De Ferro De Mocambique, Mozambique