Ahead of the Central Railway General Manger Sunil Kumar Sood’s one-day visit to Pune on December 23, a beautification and cleanliness drive are going on in full swing at various stations that are usually a picture of apathy. As part of this annual visit, Sood and his team are scheduled to inspect the Lonavala-Pune stretch. Most of the stations which lie on this route are seeing cleanliness, repair and refurbishment drives.
The planned restoration work at Pune station has gathered speed with installation of brand new boards at entrance and exit routes, replacing the old dysfunctional clock at the main building with a new one, installation of digital information boards at several key spots, repair of lighting system and CCTV cameras, among other things. The only baggage scanner at the station used by around two-and-a-half lakh visitors every day has been moved at the main entrance from its earlier position of entrance from the reservation centre.
Similarly, engineering work at Platform Number 7 has also picked up pace. This perennially ignored platform will get a new pavement and foundation work for the proposed skywalk, which is getting delayed, will also start soon. Similarly, major works of painting, repair, refurbishment, security and cleaning have taken place at smaller stations which fall on the Lonavala-Pune route, including Shivajinagar, Khadki and Dehu Road. Pune Division jurisdiction ends at Malvali station, which too is being tidied up. These drives have left many passengers wondering why similar work can’t be carried out on other routes and why the cleanliness and sanitation situation couldn’t maintained throughout the year.
“If you see and compare, there’s a marked difference between the stations located on Pune-Lonvala stretch and any other stretch like Pune-Daund-Manmad, Pune-Satara-Kolhapur or Pune-Hadapsar-Solapur,” said Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group. She claimed the administration had also removed illegal hawkers from these stations and banished beggars from Pune Station, which usually looks like a shelter for the homeless.
Milind Jadhav, a student who travels by train daily from Daund to Pune, said officials were only worried about their superiors, and not commuters. “They, it seems to be me, worry only about what their superiors may think. What about us? Instead of cleaning and revamping stations on the Pune-Lonavala stretch, the administration should have carried out a careful survey of the stations which need urgent renovation and allotted funds judiciously,” said Jadhav.
The Railway administration conceded they were paying more attention to Pune-Malvali stretch due to the scheduled visit by the General Manager. “Passenger amenities are there on every station and not a single station is untouched by routine cleanliness activities. However, whenever annual inspection happens, certain sections get extra attention and minute details are taken care of. Since, every year a different section is chosen by inspection by the GM, a different section get beautified every year,” said Manoj Jhawar, Pune Division PRO.