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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

cleaning of DMRC Trains ~ Green Tribunal pulls up Delhi Jal Board

How often do you travel by train ? ~ do you travel by Electric / suburban trains ?? – the wishlist would be ‘timely running’ of trains and neat maintenance of coaches.

When thinking green, one is inclined to  think of  Switzerland, considered to be world’s most environmentally-conscious countries.  Here it is stated that most trains use ultra-clean hydroelectricity, and some even generate energy-saving electricity when traveling downhill. Every Swiss town is connected to the train system. As the fireworks flew and the brass band played at the  opening of the 57km-long Gotthard Tunnel under the Swiss Alps, Angela Merkel, who was on the first train to pass through it, could not resist the remark: “This is something we Germans still need to work on a little”. The project was not only completed on time and within budget, she noted with admiration, but it will shave the best part of an hour off the regular journey time between Zurich and Lugano.

A joke heard in Germany is: “If you want to see German efficiency, go to Switzerland.” While it has German engineers squirming, most can only nod in agreement. It is certainly hard to imagine such a prestige project happening in Germany these days. Most of the country’s recent high-profile construction schemes have become great national embarrassments, beset by massive delays and huge cost overruns.  One newspaper reported of the  number 174,630,000 – the no. of minutes German passenger and goods trains have been losing every day over a particular year, with train delays said to have risen by almost a third since 2009.

In India, people at the drop of hat would blame ! – and cry hoarse that Railways always run late (which is not the truth) .. recently there was this technological advancement of  “Clean My Coach” initiative as part of  ‘Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat’ campaign. “It is a new beginning in cleanliness efforts with the use of technology,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi said after launching ‘Clean My Coach Scheme’ at New Delhi, Mumbai Central and Lucknow stations through video-conferencing. As per the scheme which is part of the rail budget 2016-17 proposals, for any cleaning in a coach, a passenger can send an SMS to 58888. Passenger’s request is immediately acknowledged through SMS on mobile phone along with a code.  Dedicated SMS Mobile Number caters to Clean My Coach initiative is 58888.  Dedicated Website for the scheme is www.Cleanmycoach.com.  There is also the Mobile App.  Satisfaction Code ensures Passenger Satisfaction otherwise Complaint is treated as not closed; it provides for different types of request like Cleaning, Watering, Pest Control and Linen related request.  Clean My Coach Scheme is operational in 43 divisions and with the formal launching, 24 more divisions will also be covered in the current year.

Away, there is some castigation arising out of cleaning ! – not exactly.  Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is the government agency responsible for supply of potable water to the most of the National Capital Territory region of Delhi, India. Delhi Jal Board was constituted in  1998 through an Act of the Delhi Legislative Assembly incorporating the previous Delhi Water Supply and Sewage Disposal Undertaking. DJB is also responsible for treatment and disposal of waste water.

Today’s Economic Times states that the  National Green Tribunal (NGT) has castigated the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and slapped a fine on it for not filing its response on a plea alleging that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was extracting groundwater to wash its trains, despite promising to do so in a few days a fortnight ago.

A bench headed by Justice U D Salvi slammed the counsel for the DJB and slapped a fine of Rs 2000 on the department for making loose statements before it. "DJB had made a statement on August 22, 2016 that the reply will be filed within two to three days. No reply has been filed till date. We depreciate this practice of making loose statements before the Tribunal. We, therefore, saddle the DJB with the cost of Rs 2,000," the bench said. The green panel directed the DJB to deposit the amount with the NGT Legal Aid Service Committee within two weeks and submit the receipt of payment before it on September 8, the next date of hearing.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Delhi resident Kush Kalra who had alleged that DMRC was extracting groundwater instead of using wastewater to wash its trains, resulting in depletion of water table. Advocate Kush Sharma, appearing for Kalra, had said that at a time when water crisis has hit 12,000 villages across Latur in Maharashtra, DMRC is busy shining its trains by illegal extraction of groundwater. Referring to a RTI reply, the plea said that DMRC's water requirement was met through borewells and the DJB connection. It also said that in order to draw water from the borewell, 3 to 5 HP pumps were used.

"No bottled water is used, groundwater after treatment as per requirement is used for train washing. Borewells have been provided in the depots from where water is sourced. Around 400 to 500 litres of groundwater is used for washing of one metro train. The water, after washing of metro train, is sent to Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). The treated water is then used for gardening and the excess sent to drains," the RTI reply had revealed. Further, another RTI response received from the DJB said no permission had been granted to DMRC for digging the borewells.

So –  keeping things clean does not augur well for the DMRC and Delhi Jal Board !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Sept. 2016.

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