A man adopted a railway station in Mumbai and within a few months changed the way it looked. Here is how he made it possible.
Visit King’s Circle railway station in Mumbai and you’ll be in for a surprise—spic-and-span corners, nicely painted walls, well-lit entrances, and beautiful plants!
For the first time ever in the country, Indian Railways gave the go-ahead to a non-profit venture, Die Hard Indian, to adopt a railway station and take charge of its beautification process.
The man behind the project is Gaurang Damani, an electrical engineer with a social conscience.
“I would file various complaints about the bad condition of the railway stations. One day, the Ministry approached me and asked me to take up this project. I was thrilled,” Damani says.
Damani started his ambitious project in December 2014, and the first thing he did was identify the dirtiest spot in King’s Circle station. This was the first place that was cleaned before moving on to other areas in the station.
After every corner of the station had been cleaned, Damani moved on ensure that the space was well-lit — 29 bright lights were installed on foot overbridges. The next step was to beautify the station — a 100 saplings were planted in and around the area to provide some pleasant greenery. In order to prevent people from spitting on the walls, Damani got a few artists to do some beautiful wall paintings. Thanks to this initiative, spitting on the walls has come down by 99 percent.
Damani’s team also pasted informational posters and banners at the station to spread awareness about cleanliness, safety and hygiene. They lifted debris and did overall cleaning of the platform, apart from fixing potholes and placing dustbins at various locations.
Over 550 volunteers from different organizations, schools and colleges showed up to extend their support to transform the station.
“There was a lot to be done. But all the volunteers showed immense passion and dedication and the work is finished now. We have appointed a few people to keep a check on how the station is doing after the completion of the work and everything seems to be in place right now,” says Damani.
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Die Hard Indian, Damani’s NGO, has now taken on the responsibility of maintaining the work that was done at the station.
When Damani started working on this project, he faced various challenges too. The biggest hurdle was dealing with a non-cooperative public. The station is a busy place and keeping track of all the problems in different areas was difficult.
“People would steal the banners, posters and other things. We started putting chains on dustbins to prevent them being stolen,” he recalls.
As it was the Railway Ministry that had approached Damani for this project, there were no problems from the government’s side and the mission was carried out smoothly.
Thanks to Damani’s NGO and other organisations that managed to raise funds for the project, the station looks much cleaner, brighter and safer now. Damani will take care of the station for the next eight months, after which he is willing to continue his work if the ministry extends their permission.
If anyone wants to replicate Damani’s model, he is ready to share his experiences and extend help. He is also looking forward to adopting more stations.
To know more about the efforts of Die Hard Indian and how this NGO made the beautification project such a huge success, check out the website.