September 24, 2020

Green corridor cry when nature calls

Bhagalpur: Hundreds of passengers travelling by the Bhagalpur-Banka and Bhagalpur-Dumka via Hansdiha passenger trains don’t have the option of attending to nature’s call, as the compartments don’t have toilets.

Malda division of Eastern Railways, under whose jurisdiction the train routes fall, has managed to call these sections green corridors but failed to introduce bio-toilets on the trains.

A.L. Singh, a native of Dumka in Jharkhand, narrated his ordeal during a journey from Dumka to Bhagalpur on Thursday. “Being a diabetic, I badly need a toilet but had to face difficulties as none of the bogies on the Dumka-Bhagalpur passenger train have one,” Singh said.

Singh, a retired government employee, has decided to do what Babu Okhil Chandra Sen, a native of neighbouring Sahebganj district, did some 119 year ago.

When the British introduced the railway in the India in 1854, there were no toilets on trains. On July 2, 1909, Sen, an aggrieved passenger, lodged a complaint with the then transportation superintendent in Sahibganj. He said he was travelling by a passenger train and was compelled to alight at Ahmedpur to attain to nature’s call. But by the time he returned, the train had left.

Sen’s letter compelled the then railway authorities to introduce toilets in all train compartments on 1909. The letter is still preserved at the Railway Museum in New Delhi but the same railway authorities close their eyes on the plight of passengers here, Singh alleged.

Trains running on the Bhagalpur-Banka and Bhagalpur-Dumka stretch do not have toilets. Only passengers trains run the 110km stretch from Bhagalpur to Dumka. The journey takes 3-4 hours and the fare costs Rs 20 but passengers don’t have the toilet option. “Just imagine the plight and misery of women and children passengers,” said Reba Chakravarty, a homemaker from Dumka who recently came to Bhagalpur to meet her parents.

Another passenger, Rubia Khatun, explained why it is better to take a bus. “The buses from Dumka to Bhagalpur stop at Hansdiha, Bounsi and a few other places on the route to allow passengers to attend to nature’s call,” she said.

Despite several attempts, Malda divisional railway manager Tanu Chandra was not available on her cellphone.

But sources from Malda division said that since the entire Bhagalpur-Dumka and Bhagalpur-Banka stretch was included under green corridor last August “wastage could not be left on the railway tracks and the trains should have bio-toilets”. The sources pointed out that only one train from Banka to Rajendra Nagar Terminal in Patna, the Banka Intercity Express, has bio-toilets in its compartments.

Other trains on the route are mostly passenger trains and don’t have bio-toilets.

The railway official did not want to be named and refused to address questions on passengers’ plight. “We are avoiding any toilet on the train, mainly because of the green corridor, but very soon bio-toilets will be introduced,” he said.

B.K. Sahu, additional DRM, Malda, recently told reporters that the railway would soon introduce bio-toilets on all trains. “Not only in green corridors, we will introduce bio-toilets even on trains running on the Kiul to Sahabganj via Bhagalpur section in our division,” he told reporters.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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