A month after a fire gutted the dormitory for women on the first floor of Pune railway station, it remains closed for want of repairs. A nearby block occupied by the Government Railway Police — this office housed the GRP’s wireless office, crime records library and served as a retiring room for cops — remains pitch dark. Electricity supply has not been restored. The wooden pillars that virtually turned into charcoal haven’t been replaced and those working at this block face a constant fear of the roof caving in.
The crime records have been shifted but are exposed to another danger, termite and mice. The railway administration had refurbished the CCTV camera control room which was also damaged in the fire but there has been no progress in getting the dormitory and the GRP block refurbished.
Newsline visited these blocks to find GRP men working and resting in the “ruins” of the office. The walls are black with smoke, wooden furniture is burnt and there’s no electricity. The crime records library has been shifted to chowky on the ground floor, but the wireless office still functions from the dilapidated block. The work of the accounts department, which managed the salaries of cops has also been affected. The policemen stumble in the dark to locate their suitcases to store their belongings.
“A lot of us rest here during off-duty hours. There are others who have to spend the entire day working at the wireless office. There’s no lighting arrangements here. During the day you have to fumble but you can still find your stuff. Post 6 am, the room is difficult to enter. Also, since the wooden pillar has been burnt, we never know when the roof will come crashing down,” said a police constable who requested anonymity.
Next to this block, the dormitory for women remains closed for want of repair. The dormitory is meant for providing accommodation at nominal charge to female passengers who need to spend the night at the station. The beds and furniture inside the dormitory have been ruined in the fire and has yet to be replaced.
Abhay Parmar, Police Inspector, GRP said they have informed the railway administration about the problems but there hasn’t been any positive response so far.
“Our work has been severely affected since the block housed three important sections. The crime records were hurriedly shifted to the chowky but we can’t keep them there for long. They are already being attacked by termite and mice. These are important documents which we need to provide in courts. Anybody involved in a crime incident can come to claim a copy of the document up to 30 years. We requested the railway administration to shift us to the old DRM building, which has been vacated as offices there have been shifted to a new building. There’s hasn’t been any response,” said Parmar.
Harsha Shah of the Railway Pravasi Group said the apathy of the railway administration was shocking as the building was a heritage structure and could be further damaged if restoration is not started immediately.
Suneet Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager said there was a “communication gap” and the administration will soon resolve the issue. “After the fire, we sprang into action and restored the CCTV control room very fast. The issues faced by GRP were not brought to my notice. I will take action immediately. Also work to refurbish the dormitory will soon begin,” said Sharma.