Updated: August 14, 2018 7:25:15 am
In 2014, invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the call for a clean India campaign from the banks of Ganga in Varanasi. Four years later, the Varanasi railway station has featured among the least clean stations in the country, according to a cleanliness audit by the government released Monday.
The high-profile station in Modi’s constituency has suffered a massive fall in the rankings with regards to how clean it is, indicating that it is perceived to be dirtier than what it was a year ago. From rank 14 in 2017 in terms of cleanliness among 75 biggest stations in India (A-1 category), Varanasi has slipped to 69 in the latest assessment.
The three-tier third-party audit-cum-survey done by Quality Council of India (QCI), which did last year’s audit as well, at the behest of Railways comprises a detailed evaluation by assesors, direct observation and lastly, feedback from passengers. The three parameters, like the previous surveys, make a score of 1,000 where every component carries 33.33 per cent marks. Varanasi has scored 687.35 in 2018, a fall from 763.3 a year ago. The survey took into account all areas in a station, like waiting rooms, platforms, toilets, railway tracks, foot-overbridges, parking lot.
Last year’s cleanest station, Vishakhapatnam, has slipped to number 10, while Jodhpur bagged the top spot this year. Releasing the rankings, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said clean Railways would be a fitting tribute to Gandhi on October 2. “Railways has been prioritising cleanliness, punctuality and catering services for the passengers,” he said.
Jaipur has bagged the second spot, while Tirupati, which wasn’t in top 10 last year, has emerged third. For Tirupati, which sees heavy footfall of devotees to Tirumala Tirupati temple, this is a jump from rank 19 last year.
Ayodhya, which was ranked 185 among A-category stations in 2017, has fallen to the bottom of the cleanliness list at rank 328 among 332 A-category stations. Shahganj ranked 332 in the category and was adjudged the least clean station among the 407 audited.
Mathura, a station frequented by devotees to the Krishna temple, is adjudged the least clean station among the major 75 stations, being at the end of the list of 75.
The total evaluation was done on 407 stations signifying the busiest public places controlled by Railways. Apart from the A1 stations, the rest are A category stations. These stations together make up around 80 per cent of earnings from stations for Railways.
It was a bit of a mixed bag for iconic stations in big cities. New Delhi station, for instance, stood at rank 39, same as last year, while Howrah in West Bengal slipped to 71 from 56. While Mumbai Central slipped to 40 this year from 27, Mumbai CST moved up to 13 from 44. Chennai Central jumped to rank 36 from 49 last year.
For the survey and audit, QCI trained and deployed 160 assessors. QCI deployed two persons on each station for two days and the central team consisted of three persons for 25 days. Thus, a total of 1,628 mandays were deployed, according to a statement from Railway ministry.
As per policymakers in Railways, the survey showed improvement in overall cleanliness at stations. “…as compared to 2017, there is 9 per cent improvement in top 100 stations, 14 per cent in the next 100 stations, 20 per cent in 201-300 stations and 31 per cent in 301-407 stations,” the official statement read.
In 2017-18, average cleanliness of stations went up by 18 per cent, and 61 per cent of all citizens covered in the latest round of the study said the cleanliness was “above average”, QCI chairman Adil Zainulbhai said. Significantly, 47 per of the citizens felt train toilets are “cleaner now”, he said.
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