Punjab railway stations need a Pied Piper to muffle the squeak in every creek. For,armies of rodents have made railway stations across the state their home,posing a serious threat to the safe passage of trains and commuters.
The officials have done nothing to control the menace over the past many years,and the problem is getting serious with rats digging deep burrows under the railway tracks.
Lakhs of huge rats infest trains and breed along platforms. After several failed attempts to eliminate them,the railway authorities are now feeling helpless.
Sources said due to burrowing,the soil at various points on tracks has become loose. Though there is no immediate threat,rats population needs to be checked, said a railway contractor.
Notably,the Delhi division of Northern Railway has signed a Rs 17-lakh contract with a pest control company,but the railways in Punjab is yet to take an initiative in this regard. The stations in Ludhiana,Rajpura,Patiala,Amritsar,Ferozepur and Jalandhar are the worst affected. All our earlier attempts to check the rodents population have failed miserably, said a senior Railways official. Platforms are a breeding ground for rats due to food items thrown on platforms. Besides,the grains from goods trains provide more food to them, he added.
Ludhiana station superintendent Ashok Salaria told The Indian Express that the Railways has a contract with the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC),which takes care of rats inside the trains. On our part,we are regularly spray pesticides, he said.
Vendors at railways stations are also worried. It is unsafe to leave our food items without proper packing, said a vendor at Amritsar railway station.
We cannot even trap them,as there are thousands of them at a station, said Ram Kumar.
A railway employee at Patiala railway station said,They cannot place rat poison in open areas,as stray animals and children can consume them.
Moreover,if rats die in a corner,the unbearable smell overpowers the station, he added.
Sources said that Indian Railways has a comprehensive all-India contract with the Central Warehouse Corporation (CWC) for pest control. Chief Medical Superintendent,Ferozepur Division,NK Gupta said though rats were being killed,they breed at a rate of knots.
However,we have received a plan from the head office in New Delhi and will soon sign a contract to tackle this problem, he said,adding,The CWC check the menace inside the trains only.