It seems the Indian Railways, one of the largest rail networks in the world, is yet to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Swachh Bharat campaign.
In Kerala Express, a long-distance and prestigious train, ice meant to refrigerate soft drinks and meat is being kept in toilets.
Malayalam news channel 'Mathrubhumi' has come out with some shocking video footage.
In the New Delhi-bound Kerala Express, an Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) worker is seen cutting an ice block just outside a toilet. When a passenger turns up, he lets her to go in but asks her not to disturb the ice strewn around the water closet. When asked, he tells the passenger that the ice is meant to keep soft drinks cold and preserve meat items.There are more instances - in many long-distance trains, the water used for cooking and toilets is sourced from the same tap. Usually at the originating point of a train a couple of pop-up water cans are stored but once they are exhausted workers fill water from the normal pipes that is untreated.
"I boarded the Hapa-Tirunelveli Express last week. The attendant was stinking. When I asked him, he complained that he has not even had the time to go to the toilet for last three days because of work load, leave alone a proper bath," said M Mahesh, an IT executive and a regular passenger.IRCTC says that its catering staff wears uniforms, name slips, head covers and gloves but it often remains only on paper.
Interestingly, some start-up firms and caterers have started serving hot food on call but the railways is not interested in promoting it, forcing passengers to buy poor quality platform and pantry-made food."It is high time for the railways to heed the PM's call. Even AC compartments are rat and fly-infested. And many bathrooms do not get water," said Girish, another traveller.