Losing its heritage value

What a mess! The main entrance of the Old Delhi Railway Station. Photo: Chinmay Mandavgane

What a mess! The main entrance of the Old Delhi Railway Station. Photo: Chinmay Mandavgane

If you ask me, I would give two on a ten-point scale to this station considering the unhygienic condition here, said Chirag, who had just arrived by the Jammutavi-Delhi-Jaisalmer Express at the Old Delhi Railway Station. This one-and-a-half-century-old station, a part of the Delhi’s cultural heritage, is fast losing its attraction among travellers due to its deplorable condition.

The oldest station in Delhi, it was established in 1864 when trains from Howrah started operating up to Delhi. The station is also known as Delhi Junction. The colonial government constructed the present station building in red stone to give it the effect of the nearby Red Fort. The station was opened to public in 1903.

Starting out with two platforms and a handful of passengers, the station now handles lakhs of passengers and nearly 200 trains daily. The station was re-modelled in 1934-35 after the opening of the New Delhi Railway Station in 1926 and the inauguration of New Delhi in 1931. Since 1935, the station building was renovated again only last year.

But the scenes at the station, even after renovation, hardly evoke positive feelings. Even before one enters the station, the stench of urine punches ones senses. The boundary wall has become a public lavatory with the authorities turning a blind eye to the situation.

Vehicles can be seen entering the no-entry zone. The main entrance gate stands in a mess with sewer water and waste being collected there. Passengers themselves have added to the woes by littering the area — heightening the fear of spread of diseases. Again, the accumulated stagnant water is a perfect breeding ground for malaria and dengue causing mosquitoes.

According to rules, one has to buy a platform ticket to enter the station and luggage is allowed inside only after a thorough check by security personnel. Here, however, there are many loopholes through which people can enter the station premises unchecked, thus raising a question on the security system.

On the way to platforms, one has to cross the over-bridge which is overcrowded with people sitting and some even sleeping there. The information boards on the over-bridge calls it a offence where one can be fined Rs. 200. But it seems that both the lawmakers and breakers are on equal ground as neither of them bother about this mismanagement.

On the steps descending to the platforms from the over-bridge, people with huge luggage occupy most of the space — leaving little space for others to negotiate the crowd. Same is the case on platforms, too. The situation becomes even more chaotic when a train arrives and passengers are in a hurry to either board it or get down.

The open sewer by the railway tracks in another eyesore; it appears that the sewers have not been cleaned for ages. These, again, serve as public lavatories for ignorant passengers. With this amount of littering and dirt, the number of railway cleaning staff appears insufficient to keep the premises clean.

Even the roof of the platform shade has not been spared. Plastic bottles, chips packets, broken biscuits and beverage cans are found thrown here and there, dirtying it and giving out a foul smell.

The only question that comes in mind after surveying the scenario is, what are the authorities doing?

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Printable version | Oct 6, 2022 2:23:46 am |