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NFR faces daunting cleanliness challenge during Ambubachi

Posted On :: Monday 19th June 2017
While earlier, NFR used to provide two or three special trains for Ambubachi Mela, this time no special train has been provided so far.
While earlier, NFR used to provide two or three special trains for Ambubachi Mela, this time no special train has been provided so far.
By: Sushmita Dey

With the four-day annual Ambubachi Mela starting from 22nd June at Kamakhya temple, the city is gearing up to welcome hordes of pilgrims and tourists, some of whom have already turned up in the capital city and some who are arriving shortly. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has arranged for smooth and safe handling of the extra rush expected here. 

The Kamakhya station of NFR is expected to witness a huge transit of passengers during the period of the mela. Like every year, this year also NFR is going to share the responsibilities of the same with the city administration. Voluntary water supply will be provided along with round-the-clock electricity in the pilgrim camps set up by the Railway. Adequate lights and fans will be provided to ensure comfort of the guest devotees. Shamiyanas will be provided by the state government and in this connection, work has already been completed. For further ease and convenience of the devotees, NFR scout guide teams will dedicate their services during the mela at the camps set up at Pandu, Kamakhya station and the Kamakhya temple campus. 

While earlier, NFR used to provide two or three special trains for Ambubachi Mela, this time no special train has been provided so far. In this connection, Mr. Nripen Bhattacharyya, Public Relations Officer, NFR said, “There are plenty of normal trains already running. Even if we don’t provide special trains, Maa Kamakhya’s divine power is so great that every year her power astonishingly pulls devotees from every possible corner of the country.” He further added that many devotees board the trains without tickets. “We do request everyone to board the trains with proper tickets but during Ambubachi time, we have to overlook those defaulters on humanitarian grounds as passengers mostly include aged people."

With sanitation and cleanliness given the topmost priority, NFR has also taken joint responsibility with Guwahati Municipal Corporation to maintain cleanliness in the station areas. It is to be noted that every year, cleanliness becomes the biggest issue despite sincere efforts of the railway authorities. “I am a frequent railway passenger. I travel from New Jalpaiguri to Kamakhya station every now and then for official purposes. I sadly admit that we have the dirtiest stations in Guwahati. And I personally get more exasperated during Ambubachi. Despite provision of toilets during the fair, people end up defecating in the open which leads to unbearable odour. It becomes impossible even to breathe,” said a resident of Guwahati.
“Maa Kamakhya’s divine power is so great that every year she astonishingly pulls devotees from every corner of the country.” - Nripen Bhattacharyya, Public Relations Officer, NFR 

The Guwahati station, the region’s biggest A1 category station has been declared as one of the dirtiest railway stations of India in an audit report on station cleanliness by Quality Council of India (QCI). The report was based on surveys having parameters like cleanliness in parking, main entry area, main platform, waiting rooms and passengers’ feedback. Guwahati has improved maximum on the cleanliness index though.

Railway authorities have said that they are providing two open circulating areas; one at Kamakhya station, probably on Platform No 4 towards Maligaon Chariali side and another at Pandu. Besides, platform shelter will be put up at Kamakhya station for the devotees and pilgrims. Like every year, sanitary cleaners will be there on duty all day in proper uniform to cut possibilities of confusion and disorder. Public Health Engineering has taken over the responsibility for setting up temporary toilets and bathrooms for the devotees. 

Like every year, a large number of toilets will be constructed to avoid germ-infestation due to open defecation by people. These toilets will eventually be demolished and the places will be cleaned after the departure of the devotees. The PRO, Mr. Bhattacharyya, also asserted that railway authorities try their best to maintain hygiene within the station premises. But the food counters that are set up in large numbers by the city people are one of the reasons for filth generation. City people donate cooked food, sweets, etc. People staying in the station camps waste food and this leads to dumping of solid wastes. 

While the Assam tourism department is leaving no stone unturned to attract tourists to Assam, NFR needs to enhance, develop and beautify the railway stations. Also there is a burning need for an orientation programme during Ambubachi towards maintaining a clean and healthy environment in the stations. But as mentioned by the railway authorities, the same cannot be organised by them until government passes an order to do so. 

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