In a major policy shift, Indian Railways has decided to allow construction of toilets on its vacant land along tracks wherever there are slums so that slum dwellers do not defecate on railway lines.
Open defecation on railway lines is a major maintenance issue, especially in city areas where there are slums along the tracks. “For the sake of hygiene and sanitation, we have done a policy intervention to allow toilets to be built on railway land. Due to open defecation on tracks there are accidents, and even damage to tracks, thanks to uric acid and such chemicals. Now if we allow toilets then they will get sanitation facility,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Saturday.
It is not clear if railways will construct those toilets or allow state agencies to build them but the policy to allow toilets is now there, officials said.
Speaking of tweaking the flexi fare system of dynamic fare mechanism on premium trains, Goyal said he favours a system wherein discounts can be given to passengers for low-occupancy trains. “Like airlines and hotels, where a person gets discount at the last minute, it (Railways) should also offer discounts on routes with relatively low occupancy,” he said.