No jurisdictional control over space owned by Railways: officials

Revulsion and disgust are apt to be the first reactions of people arriving by trains from the western parts of the State, given the unhygienic conditions that prevail along city stretch of the railway line.

Unlike the rail lines entering the city from other directions, Tiruchi-Karur section runs across the heart of the city traversing some of the most densely populated pockets of the city.

Scores of residential colonies are situated on either side of the rail line between Fort Railway Station and the main junction, and the entire stretch forms one of the most neglected areas in the city in terms of civic maintenance.

Indiscriminate littering, sewage pipes flowing into open space from the backyard of houses, and the tendency of many to use the space along the tracks for open defecation make the entire stretch an eyesore.

The corporation sanitation machinery engaged in clearing over 300 tonnes of garbage from the city every day largely leaves these areas uncovered. Faced with severe manpower constraints, the civic body does not have the equipment or machines required to traverse the maze of narrow lanes that lead to the railway track.

Hundreds of people, a majority of them from lower income groups, face the brunt of problem every day as their dwellings are situated along the track.

“Plastic and other waste are often swept into our homes by the wind. We feel vulnerable and our children are prone to frequent illness given the unhygienic surroundings of our dwellings,” says Chithra, a housemaid who lives close to the railway tracks near Palakkarai.

Having launching an initiative to beautify the city, the corporation should first focus on improving cleanliness before taking up ambitious projects, feel residents.

“As in most other urban centres, the rail line presents glimpses of the underbelly of the city, exposing the pathetic living conditions of sizeable sections of the population. But the corporation should initiate measures to maintain cleanliness along the tracks as the Railways is not equipped or tasked to handle the job,” says R.Gopalakrishnan, a city resident.

He and a few other residents say that the corporation could organise periodic drives to clean up the mess even if regular cleaning is not possible on a regular basis.

Civic officials say they have no jurisdictional control over the space owned by the Railways. Corporation Commissioner V.P.Thandapani assured that the corporation would look into the problem. “We can in consultation with the Railways, take up a joint clean-up exercise, perhaps as a one-time measure,” he said.