Deterrent to Indian tourism: garbage alongside railway tracks


(eTN) – The largest employer in the world – Indian Railways – runs about 11,000 train services each day with 9,000 being operated as passenger trains running on about 67,000 kilometers of track. On average, 800 people travel on each train, with about 500 occupying the second class, the rest using the higher class. Each second class compartment has sleepers/seats for 72 persons. Sadly, at either end of the compartment no garbage bag exists. Quite naturally, all garbage gets thrown out of the window onto the railway tracks.

Garbage ranges from plastic cups, mud cups, food, food plates, wrappers, tobacco pouches, used mineral bottles, plastic wrappers, paper tissue, napkins, and items not having any use either during or after the journey. By a rough calculation, each person generates about 250 grams of garbage during each 12-hour journey, thereby creating over 1,125 tons of garbage each day. Each kilometer of railway track roughly generates 17 kilograms of garbage, with greater amounts found alongside main railway terminals, intersection, and junctions.

Most of the garbage is either collected and separated by rag pickers (providing gainful employment?) or consumed by stray dogs, ravenous crows, and stray cattle. Needless to say, rodents pose a genuine threat and unauthorized proliferation of temporary settlements assumes a new dimension. Are solutions to be found?

The answers are quite simple, if there is some determination shown by the railways in providing garbage disposal bags at the end of each compartment, which are then emptied are regular intervals. Passengers would then be inclined to use the plastic bags and stop throwing items from the window. Secondly, garbage disposal vans are needed at railways stations to regularly transport garbage to dumping grounds located in the towns and cities.

Regular announcements can be done on railway platforms informing passengers about these facilities, while well-known Bollywood stars can join in making promos and advertisements. This done, garbage can be systematically treated and destroyed, paving the way for healthier and cleaner travel on one of the most magnificent railway lines in the world.

This would obviously take some time to initiate, but the sooner it’s started, the better it is for all. There’s no harm concluding that more local, as well as incoming tourists, will use this form of travel for economically commuting short and long distances if the journey were the scenic beauty that it can be.