Contract for cleaning them expired in January

Rag pickers now seem to loiter near the Kasturibai Nagar Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) station rather than garbage cans — more trash seems accumulated in the former than the latter.

And it’s not just that station. Similar facilities across the nearly 20-km long stretch are an eyesore as the Southern Railway is yet to appoint a contractor for cleaning the stations. The previous contract expired two months ago. Recently, the Railways began appointing a new contractor for three months instead of a year as was the case before.

Litter on platforms and stairways, unclean toilets and paan-stained walls are a common sight. At some stations, staff pool in money to hire a daily wage labourer. Thiruvanmiyur is one such station. But the amount is not enough. Pushpa, one of the cleaners, said “ We clean the station when the railway staff members call us and we are paid Rs. 150 for a day’s work. However, only two of us are hired and it is impossible to clean the entire station in a day and for such an amount.”

Stations, with station masters, such as Mylapore, Chennai Beach and Chepauk are allocated Rs.1,000 to meet additional expenses. “The money is not enough. We can get the tracks and platforms cleaned but the rest of the station remains as it is,” said a railway employee at Velachery station.

On Monday, the scene at stations such as Chintadripet, Taramani, Kasturibai Nagar and Greenways Road reflected utter neglect. A layer of litter, most of which comprised plastic waste, was accumulated under the black marble benches in these stations, while at Chepauk, heaps of waste were seen dumped in a corner. Nithya Devi, who commutes twice a week by the MRTS, said, “Ugly paan-stained walls are a regular sight in stations. Equally disconcerting is the sight of dustbins that have not been cleared or damaged bins lying around.”

Urinals are in a pathetic state in stations like Park Town and Chennai Beach. At Chepauk, the renovated pay-and-use toilet has been shut for almost a year, said staff.

Railways sources said that they have started the process for selecting the contractor.

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