Bank official K.S. Rajasekar, who shuttles between Tirupur and Chennai every other week, said that he followed the railway budget closely despite his work load. “Cleanliness is a major issue in stations and trains,” he said, appreciating Railway Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda’s promise of outsourcing cleaning activities at 50 major stations to professional agencies, setting up a separate housekeeping wing and a 40 per cent increase in budget allocation towards cleanliness, among other announcements.
The Minster also said that onboard housekeeping services, currently operational in 400 trains, will be extended to all significant services. The Indian Railways also proposes to increase mechanised laundries to improve quality of bedrolls provided in air-conditioned coaches, he announced.
Everything rests on implementation though, Mr. Rajasekar noted. “From the blankets to the toilets, many things need better maintenance,” he said.
The Minister announced that a corpus fund would also be set up for upkeep of stations. The other announcements were extending the use of CCTV cameras at stations to monitor cleanliness activities, an all-India level complaint/helpline number that will be printed on the back of all tickets and periodic third-party inspections.
S. Muralidharan, an ex-serviceman, welcomed the move to increase the number of bio-toilets to mitigate the problem of discharge of human waste onto the tracks. However, he was sceptical about the effectiveness of utilising CCTV cameras to monitor cleanliness. “Commuters also have a responsibility towards keeping public spaces clean and not littering,” he said.