After cities, it’s now time for railway stations to figure in a new list of Swachh Bharat rankings. So, how clean is your station? Railways don’t want to do a poll or carry out inspection of stations itself to get to the answer. Instead, it has given the job to a professional agency to carry out a third party audit of cleanliness — a first in the country.
Market research company, TNS India, has been given the contract to finish the job in one month. It has been given certain parameters including objective assessment, statistical analysis, public perception (to be gauged by sample surveys) to work out an index.
As many as 400 busy stations will be assessed based on their footfall, earnings and the categories that Railways already has for classifying its stations. The process begins on Friday and will conclude on February 15, well in time for it to be mentioned in the Rail Budget.
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Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has also decided to institute an award — Swachh Railway, Swachh Bharat — from this year for the top “performers” based on the rankings, sources said.
The auditor has been given a list of 47 parameters or indicators classified under ‘Infrastructure and enabling provisions’, ‘Process adopted for cleaning’, and ‘Outcome on upkeep and cleaning’. They also include, among others, presence of stench on the station premises, control of rodents, mosquitoes and flies, evidence of effectiveness of inspectors, and use of CCTVs for cleanliness.
“Cleanliness is highly subjective. At the same time, merely by looking at the number of persons fined for littering one may not get the real picture of how clean a station really is. So, the idea is to carry out a scientific audit. We cannot be our own judge on this,” said A K Manocha, chairman and managing director of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which is anchoring the task on behalf of the ministry.
There are 7,000-odd stations in the country, but out of them 400 of the busiest have been selected based on the idea that the more footfall or trains a station gets, the more prone it is to getting dirty. The list includes 75 stations from A1 category (non-suburban stations with an annual passenger earning of more than Rs 50 crore) and 332 from A
category (non-suburban stations with annual passenger earnings between Rs 6 crore and Rs 50 crore).
Around 400 passengers from each A1 category station and 300 from each A category stations will provide feedback as part of the audit. The audit will also take into account that the cleanliness parameters cannot be the same for a station such as Thane, which is small yet gets around 6.5 lakh passengers a day, and for New Delhi that is huge and gets around 3 lakh footfalls.
Based on this brief by the ministry the company is working out its strategy to go about the audit. Sources said the idea is to finish the job well before the Rail Budget.
They also added that a series of high-level meetings has already been held at the ministry on this, including one on Wednesday. Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu, who returns from the United States next week, has sought to know the progress on the matter upon his return, said sources.