People relieve themselves near the main entrance of Tatanagar station on Thursday and (right) the saloon siding where the parcel depot has been shifted from platform No. 1. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
Model station, model urinal. Well, only if you feel homey taking a pee in a repulsive, reeking sludge of urine and dirt with a vivid blue and white welcome sign almost cheering your act of impertinence.
This improvised urinal was once the entry and exit point of parcel vans and passengers, and is located right next to the main entrance of Tatanagar, which is the only A-category station in the Chakradharpur railway division.
Around two months ago, the parcel depot was shifted from platform No. 1 to saloon siding and this entry point to the platform closed. Ever since, passenger, porter, vendor and every other mortal male has transformed the gate and adjoining boundary wall into a public lavatory.
“Tatanagar is considered a model station not just in this division but in the state. It is so unfortunate that people are creating such nuisance. It is painting a bad picture for Jharkhand. The railway authorities should take immediate steps to stop this practice,” said a member of the Chotanagpur Passenger Association.
Are the railway authorities listening? Maybe.
A.K. Haldar, a senior divisional commercial manager of Chakradharpur, said they were aware of the problem and would take appropriate action.
“We have asked Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to prosecute anyone found urinating at that gate. The RPF is also empowered to slap a fine of Rs 100 on anyone caught in the act on the railway premises,” Haldar said.
Only time will tell whether the railway bosses will walk the talk.
Sources also exposed another flip side of the decision to shift the parcel depot to saloon siding. “Ticketless travelling and trespassing have become rampant,” a railway employee said, pointing out how revenue was suffering.
Ticket dodgers make a bulk of travellers on three local trains — the Jhargram-Dhanbad Passenger, Kharagpur-Asansol Passenger and Chakradharpur-Kharagpur Passenger — which arrive at Tatanagar between 8am and 9 am.
“A sizeable chunk of passengers, mostly vendors, alight from these trains, cross the tracks and exit from the saloon siding, where there is no TTE,” the source said.
Earlier, he explained, people had to leave the station premises through platform No. 1, where TTEs are posted round the clock.
Haldar, who is also the spokesperson of Chakradharpur railway division, said the problem would be stemmed once the new building for parcel management came up. For now, he added, they would ensure a TTE was posted near the saloon siding.
What should be done to rein in passengers peeing in the open?