Chennai: Pulling up the Southern Railway for not maintaining the railway coaches and stations properly and addressing the problems faced by passengers such as cockroaches and rat menace on train bedsheets, the Madras high court has said it was the duty of higher officials to ensure minimum level of cleanliness.
Justice S.M.Subramaniam also directed the General Manager of Southern Railways to initiate action against officials and other employees, in the event of any failure, lapses, negligence or dereliction of duty on their part in maintaining the railway coaches and Stations.
The judge gave the directive while disposing of a petition from M/s Premier Garments Processing, which challenged the order of the Southern Railways cancelling its order granting permission to it to proceed with the work of mechanized cleaning of en-route pass through trains under CTS scheme and mechanized house keeping works at Erode Railway Station for 4 years.
The judge also directed the general manager, SR, to fix the duties and responsibilities to the officials/employees in respect of maintenance of railway coaches, both inside and outside as well as the Railway platforms. “The GM, SR, is directed to provide exclusive telephone numbers for the benefit of the passengers and other persons concerned, enabling them to register complaints and provide information in respect of uncleanliness or other related issues, both inside the trains as well as in the railway stations”, the judge added.
The judge also directed the GM, SR to constitute special teams for conducting inspections and monitor the cleanliness, food safety and security of the passengers in all respects.
Large number of passengers were making complaints about unclean coaches and stations. Most of the railway coaches were filled with cockroaches and free movement of rats, especially during night hours. Children, sick and aged people were mostly travelling in trains. If these complaints were not addressed, monitored and controlled properly by the authorities competent, then they were liable to be prosecuted and suitable actions were to be initiated by the Southern Railway against all those officials concerned under the Discipline and Appeal Rules, the judge added.
The judge said the most common complaints by the passengers were that the bed sheets in AC compartments were unclean and smelly but no actions were taken for many years by the Southern Railway. “The insensitiveness shown by these employees and officials are to be deprecated. They are duty bound to react immediately. Thus, this court is bound to take serious note of these lapses as it involves the rights of the citizens and also the health and peaceful traveling as ensured under the Constitution of India”, the judge added.