Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's desire to give a shining new face to Patna railway station has run into an unexpected problem: rats.
Hundreds of brown and black rats have made the Patna junction their permanent home, causing havoc. "They are seen in groups moving around at night, but even in the day they are spotted moving freely," an official complained.
"Rats have not only damaged newly constructed or extended platforms at several places and dug up mini tunnels under old platforms, they have also wreaked havoc in offices and parcel rooms," said a senior railway official.
The railways also receive regular complaints of rodent menace from commuters waiting at platforms. "Passengers repeatedly complain of rats but we are unable to take any action," one officer said.
Manohar Singh, 45, a porter for over two decades, said the rodent population was on the rise and, if not tackled now, would pose a threat to passenger health and safety.
"After digging holes in the soft soil under platforms, rats will target the soil under the tracks and damage the signal and other safety instruments," a platform vendor warned.
Pankaj Jain, the divisional railway manager of Danapur, told IANS that a massive drive would soon be launched to eradicate the rodents.
He said the railways might appoint a pest control officer to take on the pests. Already, the Patna Municipal Corporation has told the railways to kill the rats by using chemicals.
"Enough is enough. We have to get rid of them as they are threatening our newly constructed platforms, old walls and damaging goods in the parcel room," Jain said.