Garbage, muck and human faeces along railway lines are undoubtedly the biggest eyesore for Mumbaikars travelling by local trains. By March-end this year, the Central Railway authorities ensured the clearing up of a massive 1.15 lakh cubic metres-plus of waste from the tracks, as against the 90,000 cubic metres collected the previous year. More than 650 notices have been sent to slumdwellers residing along the tracks and even FIRs have been lodged against 19 of them by the railways.
These notices are being sent out since the last few weeks, after thoroughly identifying areas on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Mulund and CSMT-Mankhurd belt of Central Railway, falling under the jurisdiction of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Some locations where garbage was being dumped are Masjid, Sandhurst Road, Matunga-Sion, Kurla, Vikhroli, Wadala, Mankhurd, Govandi, King’s Circle, Reay Road and Cotton Green.
At these locations, tracks and signalling equipment has been laid waste because of the waste being strewn by the public. This garbage can lead to rail fracture, signal failure and other technical issues. On the CR, there are 25,800-plus encroachers’ illegally built shanties and even cemented homes, on more than 29 hectares railway land.
The CR officials blame slumdwellers and commuters on local trains, who couldn’t care less as they nonchalantly toss garbage on the tracks. Sources say officials are facing political pressure at various locations that are vote banks for politicians.
This will probably be the first time in the last few years that criminal action is being initiated under the Railway Act. “We have begun issuing notices to slumdwellers for throwing garbage on rail premises,” confirmed Shalabh Goel, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.
The notices, typed in Hindi and Marathi, that have been sent out to slumdwellers state, ‘This is to inform the dwellers residing on railway property along the rail lines that they are throwing garbage on rail tracks and are diverting sewerage water into clean water pipes belonging to railways along the tracks. This is forming slush and muck which is affecting track maintenance and can cause rail accidents as well; thus, posing a danger to the lives of passengers. If anyone is caught doing the same then he/she will be held responsible under Sections 145, 146, 147, 153, 154, 150, 151 and 152 of Railway Act and will also be sentenced to one-month rigorous imprisonment. So, we request you to refrain from dumping garbage on rail premises and inside stormwater drains.’