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Spot fine leash on station litterbugs

Station etiquette #1

Break the boredom of a long wait with a munch instead of encroaching upon someone’s personal space with your stare

Station etiquette #2

Don’t be a litterbug. Carry a litterbag instead to tuck that wafer wrapper, chips packet or banana peel

You ignore rule one, you may be singed by an angry glare at most. But, if you disregard rule two, you will most certainly burn a hole in your pocket.

The South Eastern Railway (SER) authorities have decided to introduce spot fines of up to Rs 500 to keep all stations under its various divisions in Odisha and Bengal and Jharkhand, including Ranchi and Chakradharpur, neat and clean.

If sources at Tatanagar station are to be believed, this extensive anti-litter drive will begin simultaneously across stations by this weekend.

Officials at Garden Reach — the SER headquarters in Calcutta — confirmed that the campaign was being launched in its four divisions of Chakradharpur, Ranchi, Kharagp-ur and Adra.

In Jharkhand, the two A-listers — Ranchi and Tatanagar junctions — besides Chakradharpur, Hatia, Muri, Ghatshila and Adityapur will be within the ambit of the drive.

“The spot fine system is included in a new clause under the Indian Railways Act. Anyone caught littering platforms and tracks will be penalised. The minimum fine will be Rs 50 and maximum Rs 500,” said a source at Tatanagar station.

Speaking to The Telegraph from Calcutta, an SER spokesperson said TTEs, RPF personnel and railway officials in general will be part of the crackdown team. “The drive will happen at regular intervals to keep all our stations clean,” he promised.

The spokesperson further said that SER general manager A.K. Verma had issued an earnest appeal to passengers to co-operate to keep station premises tidy. “We hope to deter habitual offenders by imposing fines,” he maintained.

Incidentally, in June last year, Tatanagar had launched a green campaign, banning plastic on its premises. However, after initial adherence to the directive, passengers and vendors were back to dirtying the station premises.

A rough estimate suggests that Chakradharpur division’s only A-category station generates solid wastes of up to 1.5 tonnes a day.

“Despite repeated appeals, passengers throw polythene bags on tracks and platforms. These often choke drains, which overflow and soil the station premises,” said a railway employee, hoping the situation would be controlled once spot fines are introduced.

Senior divisional commercial manager of Chakradharpur K.N. Biswas too sounded optimistic. “The penalty is a message to passengers, urging them to help us maintain cleanliness. We are optimistic of reining in litterbugs,” he said.

The Chotanagpur Passenger Association, which works for the welfare of railway commuters, has welcomed the proposed SER initiative. “The drive should have begun much earlier,” said B.N. Pande, a senior functionary. “But then, it is better late than never.”