Countless bikes parked cheek by jowl at the Tatanagar station stand are at risk from Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Tatanagar railway station has refused to play nanny to your vehicle by issuing a “Parking at your own risk” signage on Thursday.
The message is clear. Parking in the designated zone near the station is free from Thursday, but what comes for free can’t be safe. The railway authorities will not be held responsible for any theft.
Sources said that the employees of the railway’s commercial department, who used to man the parking area, have refused to do the job. They have cited harassment by vandals and rogue auto-rickshaw drivers.
Tatanagar station manager Rajeshwar Choudhary said they had to issue the signage because the commercial department staff refused to work.
“Moreover, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) have refused to take responsibility of the vehicles in the case of thefts. However, they have agreed to guard the parking area,” said Choudhary.
Senior divisional commercial manager of Chakradharpur railway division, R.N. Biswas said that the at-your-own-risk parking would be followed until further orders.
“We are looking for an agency to be appointed on a temporary basis to manage daily affairs at the parking zone. The agency will continue to function till such time a regular contractor is appointed,” Biswas told The Telegraph.
Though Biswas stressed they had asked railway police to step up vigil on vehicles, he added that a regular parking contractor would be hired as soon as possible.
At present, the parking area can accommodate 200 cars and autos and about 500 two-wheelers. The area, at any given time of the day, is chock-a-block with vehicles.
The Chakradharpur railway division took charge of the parking lot about nine months ago, once the term of the private contractor expired.
During the past nine months, bike-lifters have had almost a free run at the station. Finally, after several vehicle thefts were reported from the parking area, the railways was forced to concede that it was unable to run the service as efficiently as the private contractor used to.
In July, Chakradharpur railway division had come out with a diktat for auto-rickshaws parked outside Tatanagar to end the so-called reign of rogue drivers on station premises. Auto drivers were told to shell out Rs 5 every time they entered the parking lot to drop or pick up passengers. Earlier, they had to cough up Rs 5, which remained valid for 12 hours.
From Thursday, apart from autos no other vehicle is supposed to pay parking fee until further orders.
Which brings vehicle owners back to the conundrum. Should they smile that parking is free at Tatanagar? Or should they frown that it comes with a risky rider?
If you have to park your vehicle at Tatanagar, what precautions will you take? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org