Sunday, 12 February 2017

The sewers of India

The sewers of India
Recently I had been out of Mumbai and happened to return by train in the morning. And I realised that the Swach Bharat Abhiyan is a total failure in the railway premises and I don't mean the railway stations which are quite clean nowadays. I am talking about the railway lines which continue to attract all types of grime and are  downright filthy. Can the Railways do something about it since the railway land is being used as a community toilet by a lot of dis-advantaged people who have either not heard about the Abhiyan or perhaps the government is not ready to build toilets for these people. Or worse still, the people enjoy the open air breeze better than the stuffy insides of a built up toilet. Now imagine a foreigner passing through these railway lines….
Charles is returning by the night train from Goa to Mumbai which reaches Mumbai in the morning. He is from Britain and has loved his stay in Goa. He had gone to Goa by the day train from Mumbai and had just loved to sit by the door and watched the green fields, rivulets and assorted trees rushing by. He had looked forward to the return journey to Mumbai but alas! He did not get the day train ticket and had to travel by the night train. But he decided that, with the first rays of the morning sun he would sit by the train door once again to enjoy the early morning fresh breeze and watch the fields go by. After enjoying a good night sleep, on waking up, he eagerly made his way towards the door. After all, the 2AC bogey windows are quite opaque, hardly giving any glimpse of the outside world. On opening the bogey door, expecting the first whiff of the early morning breeze, his olfactory senses were assaulted by the pungent smell of decaying matter. Charles got a jolly good jolt but he still had hope. Hope that the vistas would open, that he would get to see at least some of the green fields seen in the first journey, but instead of green fields, he saw mounds of trash mixed with plastic bags reaching to the top of the wall along the lines. He could not imagine why, the people of India consider the railway property as trash bin. But then he saw rows and rows of metal rails and cement sleepers lying unused, stacked one upon the other. He then understood that the railway land is not respected by the railways itself. He expected to see some animals like cows and buffaloes but he could see only pigs and swines enjoying the filthy settings. And then suddenly he saw people sitting by the rails; at first he did not understand what they were doing in the dim morning light. And then suddenly it dawned on him, and he made a dash for the cozy interior of the train, his expectations to see great natural settings, fully crushed, since he had just seen innumerable men answering the call of nature. He made a promise to himself, never to look out of a train in Mumbai, especially during the morning “peak” time.
The Swach Bharat Abhiyan is being correctly targeted in the city and village surroundings, but the Railway ministry needs to join in, to rid its surroundings of, the highest incidence of filth, found anywhere in India.
Yatindra Tawde

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