"Want to start using the toilet? Well, pay some commission"

In Feb, a toilet was built for the gateman stationed at Safedabad railway crossing in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. It’s locked since then. Nine months later, the Divisional Rail Manager Office is asking for a commission in lieu of keys for the toilet

Ranvijay SinghRanvijay Singh   4 Oct 2019 11:21 AM GMT

"Want to start using the toilet? Well, pay some commission"

"The Divisional Rail Manager Office is asking for a commission. For this reason, the station in-charge never got access to the toilet. They locked it and went away," said Ashok Kumar Pandey, station in-charge of Safedabad railway station in Uttar Pradesh's Barabanki district.

The Safedabad railway station is situated 25 kms from Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow. Two railway crossings -- 180A and 181A -- fall under this station.

In February, when the Gaon Connection team was crossing this railway track, the reporters stopped by to have a conversation with Anuj Mishra, who was the gatemen then.

The toilet, which is a bone of contention between the gatemen and the authorities now, was newly set up in February. "I don't know who has the key. Apparently, it's a VIP toilet," Anuj had then said. Anuj and others could never use it. It was locked then. It is locked now.

While we were crossing the same track again, we stopped by to inquire about it. "The toilet is just there. It's not even constructed where we had asked them to. There is no water connection. There are no toilets at the station. This toilet is 150 meters from the station. But even that is locked. The station in-charge was never given the keys. Now the officers are asking for a commission," said Pandey.

When asked, Anuj said: "We don't use it. It's not worth using."

An open defecation free India is the dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On October 2, the prime minister informed that rural India has declared itself open defecation free.

The room where the gateman sits is a tiny oneThe room where the gateman sits is a tiny one

All lines clear

On January 31 this year, Union minister Piyush Goyal had announced that the Railways has achieved its target of eliminating all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines. The last unmanned crossing was at Allahabad. That too is gone now.

The aim of eliminating unmanned crossings was to prevent accidents. But the gatemen, who now have an important job, are not being given any facilities.

The Safedabad railway station is an example of this.

The room where Anuj sits is a tiny one. There is one chair, one table, a fan and a telephone that rings non-stop. They don't get water to drink. They don't have a washroom.

"We have to be alert all the time. Officially, we are supposed to work for eight hours. But we end up working for 12 hours. We don't even get time to go to the washroom," said Anuj.

Well, even if they want to, where's the washroom?

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