Next time you travel by train, the sight of those stinking toilets and railway tracks strewn with human excreta would hopefully be a thing of the past. The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, issued strict directions to the Railways to clean things up immediately.
The court also banned, yet again, manual scavenging and suggested other methods like water jets and bamboo brooms.
A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna slammed the Railways for continuing to permit manual scavenging when the law enacted 17 years ago had specifically banned it.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Safai Karamchari Andolan, a federation of scavengers, seeking a complete ban on employing manual scavenging, besides their rehabilitation in a time-bound manner.
“...it is a crime against humanity,” the Bench said.
“People who travel in trains need to be guided properly. If a citizen using the toilet forgets hygiene, he is in a way harming the society at large,” said Misra.
The court demanded “different kind(s)” of cleansing methods at stations, mostly junctions, were trains stop for longer periods of time.
Railway Board Secretary BK Gupta, who had been summoned to the court, said jet pumps have been installed in 191 out of 278 stations and 133 bio-toilets.
The court also asked Delhi Government standing counsel Rajiv Nanda to verify the Railway’s claims that they have, for the first time, installed bio-toilets in the New Delhi-Gwalior-Rewa Express.
The court also asked Gupta to take “affirmative steps” to ban manual scavenging.