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Updated: October 10, 2013 09:10 IST

Towards cockroach-free coaches in Chennai

Staff Reporter
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B. Selvam
B. Selvam

For regular train passengers, rats, cockroaches and other pests are hardly a novel sight. From the general coaches to the first class ones, the pest menace is something those travelling by train have resigned themselves to. But, if B. Selvam has his way, this trouble may soon be a thing of the past.

The senior section engineer in the Basin Bridge train care centre, a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Shram Vir award for the year 2012, has developed a method to remove pests hidden in the crevices of coaches. The presence of pests in these spots in coaches has long been the bane of maintenance staff. Though the railways has tried various options such as fumigation to get rid of them, it has not really succeeded. “This is because it is very difficult to dislodge the pests that have settled in small crevices,” said a senior railway official.

Till 2012, the railways used to spray medicines inside coaches. But these would never seep into the crevices. At this juncture, Mr. Selvam designed a fumigation chamber after a thorough study. He inspected the sidewalls, spaces between the two floors and air conditioner ducts.

“He did this with the help of a pencil camera attached to a laptop,” said Southern Railway’s chief mechanical engineer, S.K. Sood.

He then fitted 48 pipes in the coach including 12 in the side walls, 12 in the gap between the two floors, and 12 in the other crevices, including the air conditioner ducts. This is after the coach was placed inside a fumigation chamber.

“After this, chemicals, including methyl bromide, are sprayed into the compartment through the pipes from outside. They enter the sidewalls and crevices in the coach and completely remove the pests. The coach is covered with a tarpaulin to prevent the pesticides from coming out,” said Mr. Sood.

The fumigation process for each coach takes two days and the chamber can accommodate three of them at a time. “The first class air-conditioner coaches and pantry cars undergo fumigation once in three months. The process is conducted in rest of the coaches as and when complaints arise,” he said. Rakesh Mishra, general manager of the southern railways, who appreciated Mr. Selvam’s work, said that the number of complaints pertaining to bed bugs and pests in coaches had come downMr. Selvam joined the railways in 1985. He had earlier made a widely-praised sliding door arrangement for easy entry and exit of passengers, particularly in toilets.

More In: Chennai | News

Railways should ban eatables FM coaches.Consumption should be confined to pantry cars.IRCTC people dirty platforms.They was vessels and plates at Chennai Central Platform No 1 where Duranto starts...They spoil the coaches without cleaning the litter.

from:  venkat
Posted on: Oct 13, 2013 at 08:07 IST

good job! public should know how to keep the public place clean?? observed people(rich/powerful to poor-indians) abuse the public properties right from buses,trains to common properties , govt should bring a system/rules/laws to stop this abuse and had to plan infrastructures for public convenience in all cities/towns??

from:  raj
Posted on: Oct 12, 2013 at 01:37 IST

While this seems to be a good idea, what about the air in the train after the fumigation process? The chemicals may still linger and be harmful to the passengers? AC Coaches will be even more worse as it will take more time to air out the chemicals. Reading this news, I thought Mr. Selvam had just started in the Railways but looks like he has been since the 80's. It appears that Mr. Selvam's ideas were not implemented/supported in full swing inspite of being with the Railways for 20+ years.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 19:31 IST

Great to hear someone finding a solution to this problem. However, the coach factories should themselves try to find a method to PREVENT the pests getting into the innards of the coaches. How come we dont see roaches, rats and other pests in trains of other developed countries?

from:  Seshadri iyer
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 17:23 IST

Great to hear about a Railway employee doing creative work instead of
just shuffling papers and depending on sub contactors to do the job.
However the problem of roaches and rats is endemic to IR Rly stations
and oaches. A holistic approach is required from the railway engineers
and medical, HSE departments.

from:  Sharma B.S
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 09:24 IST

When we come from abroad accompanied by foreigners it is a huge embarrassment.Not only roaches dirty seat and torn seat covers.India is not a super power unless it can remain clean.

from:  Nasar
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 06:14 IST

May a Million Selvams Bloom for our Nation to Grow and Prosper

from:  jay
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 06:13 IST

This menace is squarely due to the carelessness of the travelling
public, who litter the coaches indiscriminately with edibles even within
a short spell of their journey. 'wHY Selvam an individual is praised, as
if he is only personally doing?' says Vaithya. Mr. Selavam spared a
thought on this menace and walked an extra mile that is rare among any
working class whether Government, public sector or private.

from:  jayabalan
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 05:55 IST

I would say all the coaches should be treated regularly to have a check against these pests.When train cleaning happens, this also should be scheduled.

from:  B Bhavani
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 01:26 IST

Kudos to Mr. Selvan for the effors to eliminate the bug problem in Indian Railways. In addition to fumigating, passengers cleanliness when they consume food in coaches can lessen the rats/roaches problem. I never bring my suitcase inside my house after a train journey in India for fear of bringing mice and roaches to my house.

from:  Sita Parameswaran
Posted on: Oct 11, 2013 at 00:41 IST

Congratulations to Mr. Selvam.

Rakesh Mishra, general manager of the southern railways said that the number of complaints pertaining to bed bugs and pests in coaches had come down! He has to travel by the second class compartments and see for himself.

"The process is conducted in rest of the coaches as and when complaints arise,” he said. Comlain to whom? The TTE just smiles and goes if we complain. I sent email complaint (for some other problem) No reply from southern railway.

Public also need to have some discipline. They litter the compartment with eatables. Some people are not even bothered to pick up their spillages and throw away.

from:  Abdulkadar
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 20:59 IST

I appreciate the positive energy that is coming out of Selvam. The fact that he is allowed to try his experiments is credit to the Railways management.

What would be ideal is designing the coaches such that there are no crevices. If that is not possible, then with the minimal number of crevices. Spending 2 days in fumigation every 3 months can become very expensive pretty soon. The coach designers should step in and factor this maintenance aspect in their designs.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 18:29 IST

Dear all
We have to congratulate Selvam for the efforts he has taken. It may be the team but it was his brain wave. Our indian attitude should change. Same thing happened with Electronic Voting Machine when MrRengarajan(Writer Sujatha) designed, he was not been credited with high honours.

from:  Ravi Srinivasagopalan
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 14:53 IST

We generally notice cockroaches, and sometimes, rats. As per the
report, it takes two days to fumigate one coach. By this standard,
it is anyone's guess as to how many days it would take to clear the
entire fleet of coaches under Southern Railway. It would be better if
the railways use a cockroach bait that is now widely available in the
market and used in homes and offices effectively. It kills both the
cockroaches that consume the bait as well as those that feed on the
dead cockroaches and is effective for about 6 months. It may take
about 30-40 minutes only to apply the bait in each coach.

from:  S G Roy
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 14:15 IST

Good thinking.. however fumigation is done with chemicals.. and is harmful for our environment if not handled properly, not to mention the people who handle it for their livelihood. The basic need here is to maintain a discipline is the way us Indians consume our food. Need to make sure we dont spill food, and if by accident its spilt, we need to make sure to clean up aferwards. Countless times, i see chips packets and food left on the floor, and the railway staff fail to clean up the coaches properly, which leads to pests getting their food supply easily. Not only cockroaches, i have seen mice darting around in the coaches. Only when a global unstoppable epidemic, of the size of the Black Plague hits us Indians, we will be awakened. :-/

from:  Nikesh
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 12:50 IST

I never thought that the AC coaches are full of harmful chemicals which is being inhaled by passengers. Is not a chemical-free solution possible? We are not looking at the cause - pests are present due to the lack of cleanliness and maintenance. Keep clean and pests will go away themselves.

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 12:11 IST

wHY Selmam an individual is praised, as if he is only personally doing?what about others as a team in the yard?However, because enormous no of coaches under service,it is difficult to manage with least man power and every coached after inspection, should have a note pasted ,so that staff who is attending, will also know what has been done.Indian Railways are reproted the biggest long rail track in India and may be the largest inthe world.

from:  vaidya
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 11:35 IST

KUDOS to MR. SELVAM who gives hope that someone is there at end of
tunnel( or crevice I must say )
The article line "The process is conducted in rest of the coaches as and
when complaints arise" is slap on common mass, who travel regularly but
never complain and so would be treated inferior than the upper class.

from:  Shreeram Iyer
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 11:19 IST

Switching over to new technology is a welcome effort to solve pest
issues in coaches. Now focus should be on getting the technology
approved by University. Use of Methyl Bromide for fumigation can be
undertaken only by trained, certified and licensed professionals and he
should be approved to do the service by competent authority,

from:  Narayanmoorthy
Posted on: Oct 10, 2013 at 07:38 IST
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