[box type=”shadow” ]In an unprecedented move, the Indian Railways created a special deparment to define and implement cleaning solutions in totality, right from the buildings to the platforms to the coaches. The Ministry of Railways has appointed Alok Kumar Tewari as Advisor to the newly formed Environment and Housekeeping department of the Indian Railways. While cleaning and laundry will be sphered by this department independently, the environmental aspect will be addressed in conjunction with various departments. Alok Tewari in an exclusive interview with Mohana M, Editor of Clean India Journal, during the Clean India Technology Week 2017 at Hyderabad, calls upon the cleaning industry to share their expertise in making the Indian Railways clean and hygienic.[/box]
The Indian Railways delegation spent two full days at CTW 2017 understanding the various cleaning technologies on display, interacting with exhibitors and engaging in brain storming session with the facility services and laundry segments.
How useful was CTW 2017?
It is indeed a commendable show and the organisers deserve applause and credit for bringing together different cleaning equipment and chemcials and also service providers and organizing such a grand show. Not only the cleaning, laundry, car care and waste technology expos, the seminars too have been interactive and educative. The industry interaction during the two special sessions was equally good. The industry has to now come up with solutions suitable for the railways.
What is the scenario of cleaning in the Indian Railways?
The overall cleaning and hygiene in the railways requires a lot improvement. While we have implemented processes, some of it is now visible at our stations and coaches too. Yet, we are not satisfied with the status and want to make it much better than what it is now so that we can fulfil the promise made by the Prime Minister of giving the citizens “Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat” and “Rail Badega Desh Badega”.
At present, what I observe is that cleaning as such is too compartmentalized. Take for example, the on-board housekeeping services we give contracts for individual trains. This is one of the reasons for the work getting segmented. As a result, may be the expert agencies and big players providing world class services in this business are not able to come forward. The local and small service providers, because of their own constraints and internal problems are not able to provide satisfactory services. The services that they are providing now, leave a gap between the expectations and the service levels provided. We are aiming to bridge this gap by altering some processes which is under discussion. We will get to see the results in due time.
What is your expectation from the cleaning industry?
We need solutions from them. Since the cleaning segment is calling themselves an industry, they have the expertise. The railways core business movement, and hence we need guidance, help and suggestion from them on the processes, the kind of chemicals or methods can be adopted to improve the cleanliness on Indian Railways. Also for our linen, coaches, stations, platforms, premises and schools.
What is specifically required in terms of linen cleaning?
We have done a lot of work in terms of setting up large BOOT laundries in the railways. The problem there still continues to be with the washing of the blankets. Earlier, we were washing the blankets every two months but now we are washing it every month. You must appreciate that blankets being woolen, if washed frequently will prerish. Hence, we need solutions for blanket cleaning so that the passenger feels that the blanket is fresh and not used and gets the satisfaction of the services offered by the railways.
In the exclusive brain storming session that ensued between the Indian Railway delegation and the laundry industry was fruitful. The stakeholders have been invited to send suggestions and solutions to the Ministry over email.