Mumbaikars always complain about the clogged railway infrastructure in the city but when railways have started upgrading amenities to ease the woes of the commuters, they don’t value it. The newly constructed Elphinstone foot overbridge was inaugurated by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal two months back but commuters have already started littering it by spitting gutka, paan, and tobacco. Indian Army had worked overtime as the bridge was completed in a record time of 117 days. Commuters nonetheless have no regard for the work done by the Army as one can find stains of gutka and paan on the foot overbridge. Not only this, passengers are also throwing wrappers of food items on the platforms and the railway tracks instead of disposing them of in the dust bins.
Shiv Sena MP and member of Railway Board Gajanan Kirtikar said that commuters who are littering on the foot overbridge are only insulting the Army and victims who have passed away in the mishap. “Railways must create awareness among citizens to maintain cleanliness and appeal to them to stop littering at stations. Action must be taken against offenders for spitting on the foot overbridge.”
How long will citizens continue to blame the system? Isn’t it their responsibility to maintain cleanliness of public places like railway stations, bus stands and airports? Do passengers lack civic sense and when will they start behaving responsibly? Even though railways have increased the fine amount for littering on railway stations to Rs 500, it doesn’t deter commuters from spitting and throwing waste. Railways too don’t have adequate manpower to nab offenders making railway stations dirty. Since railway stations are very crowded during peak hours, it becomes difficult for the officials to catch the offenders.
MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said, “People who are littering at railway stations should be aware of the mistake committed by them. It is not possible for the government to control such activities. Actually, citizens should take initiative to maintain hygiene at stations.”
Railways have been appealing to passengers to keep railway stations clean but they turn a blind eye towards it. In 2016-17, a total number of spitting and littering cases registered under the Section 198 of the Railways Act went up to 89,378 — nearly double the figures from the previous year, when 45,009 were registered in the Western Railway. Railway stations will continue to remain filthy unless and until passengers change their mindset. It is the collective responsibility of Mumbaikars to keep the railway stations clean.
Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “Cleanliness is important but we need to check the utility of the newly constructed foot overbridge which is located at the north end of Elphinstone Road railway station. Few people use it; hence, I had opposed its construction.”
Sawant said that government is not working for the welfare of the masses. “Instead of Mann Ki Baat, the Modi government should do Jann Ki Baat. Strict action must be taken against the commuters spitting on the overbridge. Foot overbridge should be constructed in the mid area of the Elphinstone Road railway station. The Railway Minister is making strategies without being aware of the ground realities,” he added.
The construction of the Elphinstone Road railway station foot overbridge was assigned to Army after 23 lives were lost in a stampede that occurred at a narrow FoB at the station on September 29, 2017. The new Elphinstone Road foot overbridge connects the Central Railway’s Parel station on the east side and Phoolwali lane outside the Elphinstone Road station on the west side.
Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Earth5R, Saurabh Gupta said, “There is a need to maintain hygiene at public places. Commuters spitting on the foot overbridge are only insulting soldiers and victims of foot overbridge collapse accident. Passengers are just looking for a place to spit.”
Elphinstone and Parel stations located in the central Mumbai were once known as the city’s textile hub. Lakhs of commuters used to alight at these stations to attend their offices. After the closure of textile mills, the area witnessed a massive transformation as the malls and corporate offices have sprung up in the area. However, the infrastructure of these stations was unable to keep pace with the rising number of crowds working in the new age industries.