If the railway authorities’ monsoon preparedness as of now is anything to go by, flooded railway tracks, delayed trains and breakdown of rakes may come back to haunt you in coming months. With less than a month to go for the rains, railway stations across the Central, Western and Harbour Lines leave much to be desired.
HT visited several suburban stations and found heaps of dumped trash, debris, and silt along the railway lines. Many of the stretches along the tracks are yet to be cleaned and majority of the drains continue to be clogged.
However, railway officials said monsoon-related work including cleaning of culverts, drains, trimming of trees and installations of water pumps were on. “The contracts were awarded by April-end and the first round of cleaning and tree trimming is in progress,” said Mukesh Nigam, CR divisional railway manager.
The CR will install 16 water pumps at 15 locations. The authorities said that 12,000 cubic metres of debris along the railway line had been already removed. “We are operating special trains to collect the garbage. Our target is 20,000 cubic metres,” said a railway official, requesting anonymity.
Nitin David, public relation officer (PRO), WR, said: “Contracts for de-silting have been awarded. The work has commenced and is expected to finish by May-end. Water pumps will be installed at 58 locations.”
Despite the claims, passenger associations and activists have already raised the red flag over sloppy work. “If the debris is not removed before the monsoon, it will surely bring services to a halt in June-July,” said Subhash Gupta, a passenger activist.
He said it was the contractors’ job to clear debris and rebuild old masonry walls. He said the Railways should take stern action against these officials for failing to perform their duties.
Commuter activist Nasiruddin Khan said: “The contractors’ present work is an eyewash. They remove the silt and leave it in nearby drains.”
Plastic and thermacol wrappers, cups, plates and bottles, thrown out of trains by commuters are a major concern. Last year, the CR had banned sale of food items wrapped in plastic at catering stalls, but later lifted it under political pressure.