Fed up with the large quantity of garbage along railway tracks on the Central, Western and Harbour lines, residents — in collaboration with a non government organisation (NGO) — have started a Twitter campaign to rid the areas of waste.
NGO Environment Life identified 10 spots in Mumbai where garbage mounds have been dumped along the railway tracks — Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Masjid station, Sandhurst Road , Sion, Kurla, Chunabhatti, Govandi, Goregaon, Matunga and Bandra to Khar.
The NGO shared residents’ concerns by tweeting pictures of each site to railway minister Suresh Prabhu and other officials from the Union railway ministry, which forwarded the complaints to local officials via Twitter itself. However, no action has been taken yet.
“Citizens have been shelling out their hard-earned money to pay a cleanliness tax, but it seems as though the cash is not being used for the right purposes,” said Dharmesh Barai, head coordinator, Environment Life.
“Garbage strewn haphazardly along the city’s lines contradicts the Prime Minister’s vision of clean India (Swacch Bharat). Citizens need to get rid of their apathy and take care of public transport,” he added.
In his tweets, Barai identified 10,000kg of garbage strewn across all 10 locations, which he and other residents surveyed.
He said the railways need to do more groundwork to ensure cleanliness, rather than just making announcements to keep the stations clean.
“Every Sunday, there is a mega block and trains do not run. The railways, along with citizens and the civic body, can easily clean up the tracks over a few months. There is an immediate need to sensitise citizens living close to the tracks about open defecation and dumping of garbage,” said Barai.
Officials from the Central, Harbour and Western railways said waste management was one of the more serious issues they face. “Garbage winds up on railway tracks when residential complexes and slums dump their trash, which is then carried by nullahs onto the tracks,” said Narendra Patil, chief public relations officer (PRO), Central Railways.
“While clean-up drives are conducted regularly, the quantum of waste is too much and is generated daily,” he added.
He added that along with the civic body, the railways carries out clean-up drives just before the monsoon, when the maximum trash is accumulated. “The quantum of garbage would be ten times the amount observed now if we had not conducted the pre-monsoon drive,” said Patil.
Western Railway officials said the problem stems from people’s mindset and that they need to be made aware of the problem. “While awareness campaigns have been carried out over the years, they have not had much of an effect. We observe people throwing waste from moving trains daily. Civic sense cannot be inculcated, it has to come from within,” said Ravinder Bhakar, chief PRO, Western Railway. “However, swachh railway sensitisation programmes are conducted regularly.”
Civic body officials said they supported the railway’s endeavours. “We jointly identified a few spots where the garbage menace has gone out of hand. We reached out to the slum dwellers in those areas and told them not to dump garbage on the tracks and to stop open defecation. But, we need to understand the process of educating people is a continuous one and the problem cannot be eradicated overnight,” said a senior official from the BMC’s solid waste management department.