Vendors and beggars living near Pune station are using the toilets on a waiting express train rather the pay-per-use public toilets. The agency responsible for keeping the tracks clean says there isn’t enough time or water to remove the mess on time. Railway passengers are complaining about the stink.
As soon as the Pune-Mumbai-Sinhagad Express leaves Pune station at 6.05 am, the stink from grime lining the tracks at Pune railway station becomes unbearable. This is because, over the years, the train leaving for Mumbai from Pune has become a public toilet not for the daily passengers, but for all those who spend nights in and around Pune station.
No sooner the train arrives at the platform from the yard, there is a scramble among autorickshaw drivers, vendors, street children, beggars, hotel workers, to get inside the train to use the toilets. The train remains at the station for nearly half-an-hour by that time it is filled with Mumbai passengers as well. Since this facility comes for free, they do not want to use the public toilet made available at the station premises, according to railway officials.
According to railway officials, the stink and squalor at the Pune station begins early morning. The situation becomes worse as number of trains leave Pune station soon after the Sinhagad Express departs. While station manager CD Pounikar has been blaming the SMS Ltd, the agency which has been tasked to keep tracks clean, the agency officials argue the time between two trains arriving and leaving Pune station is too short to carry out immediate cleanup. They also point out that sufficient water is not available.
However, regular passengers and activists point out that the platform used by the express train is supposed to be kept clean by the railway staff and not the contractors.
Harsha Shah, president, Railway Pravasi Group [said] the Central Railways should implement the track system like the one at Kolkata railway station. “The Kolkata railway station has concrete surface on the tracks which make cleaning job easier. No sooner the trains leave, the staff immediately clean up the concrete surface”.
In 2001 the situation was even worse according to a Times of India article. Female commuters had to wade “through a pile of human excreta” to catch the Singhabad Express. Slums dwellers were using the platform for open defecation.
Source: Manoj More, Indian Express, 29 Jun 2010