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Dirty trains! Who is responsible?

After doing a complete round of general cleaning of the entire coach, it would still remain unclean and littered. Neither request nor rebuke helped, as people continue to litter,” said a Railway official, who was travelling with us.

Travelling on a three-tier AC compartment today is common with the middle class but the garbage generated on these coaches is much higher than before when it was reserved for the elite.

The train that left the platform in the morning had the garbage bins overflowing by lunch hour. Who was going to clean up this mess?

Interestingly, when the train we were in, stopped at a junction, two Railway attendants entered in. Finally, I thought there would be some cleaning up done by them. But to an utter dismay, the attendants called in two urchins to empty the garbage bins right on to the tracks!

I confronted the railway official again and protested.

“Today, mechanised cleaning and toilet cleaning have been provided for at every junction which is the responsibility of the Carriage and Wagon department. Yet, no such cleaning takes place because at many junctions there are no cleaning contractors to undertake the task.”

The attendants also revealed that no garbage bags or any other facility had been provided to clear garbage. Given the situation and the shortage of time, the only way out was to empty the bins on the tracks!

This is not done!!

Post lunch, the scene was chaotic. The leftover food and empty disposable trays were all over the place in front of the wash basin, at the door of the toilets and on the bridge between two coaches. But why were the railway canteen workers not using big garbage bags? “Well, we are not given one so how do we get them?”

How then was all this garbage going to be collected and disposed? “Simple mam, we will drop it down the tracks!”

This is not done, either!!

I confronted the railway official yet again. Well?

“If I was a passenger, personally I would hesitate eating in a compartment! It is the most unhygienic place to eat in. It is unhygienic because of the common practices. Now look at that (he said pointing at a passenger drinking coffee from a disposable cup). It is a common habit with passengers to leave the empty coffee or tea cup below the seat. After a while, the cup either gets crushed under someone’s feet or its remnants spills over, making the floor dirty.

Is it not the common man’s duty to throw his cup into the bin? People are prepared to make dirt but not ready to travel in it. They expect us to perform our duties of cleaning 100% but do not exercise even 10% of their responsibility of keeping clean. Very few passengers, particularly in the AC coaches go and drop waste in the garbage bins.

“Fines or banners may not help change the Indian attitude. A Gandhian approach could help in this case. If someone litters, let’s pick it up and throw it. At least the next time he would hesitate leaving his cup behind.”

Taking cue, the moment I saw a passenger leave his cup below the seat, I jumped to lift it and take it to the dust bin. As I walked towards the bin, I turned back expecting to see a repenting look on his face. But to my chagrin, it was one of distaste and irritation.

“Who all will you try to change mam,” said my co-passenger, as I sat dejected staring out of the window.

Nothing changed – tea and coffee, snacks, dinner… were still being served, disposables being left behind, garbage bins overflowing…

The journey continued…


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