Fearing slab collapse, railways bars entry to Nerul’s platform 6
The United Kharghar Action Committee’s call for a bandh in protest against the state government’s decision to include Kharghar in the Panvel Municipal Corporation (PMC) received a mixed response. The daily life of residents remained unaffected.
In areas such as sector 3, 4 and 7, shops downed shutters in the morning but reopened by afternoon.
The bandh was supported by the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena workers did not participate.
PWP and MNS officials said BJP workers asked the shopkeepers to reopen their shops.
The Shiv Sena has a different view on the issue. “We are not opposed to the inclusion of Khargar in the PMC. However, our demand is that the corporation be named Kharghar Panvel Municipal Corporation,” said Gurunath Patil, shahar pramukh of the party.
“Most shops were shut in the morning. However, from 11am onwards, shops started opening,” said Prabhakar Gharat, president of Ashtvinayak Vyapari association of sector 3 and 4.
“Cidco had advertised Kharghar as a part of Navi Mumbai and so we bought flats here. We do not want to be a part of the underdeveloped Panvel area,” he added.
“There is a lot of development to be carried out in Kharghar and Cidco has stated so on record. Our inclusion in Panvel will lead to the sidelining of developmental work,” he said.
While the Central Railway has decided to inaugurate the Rs400-crore NerulBelapur-Uran-Seawoods railway project by 2017, the Nerul railway station appears to be a stumbling block to the ambitious project.
The slab above platform 6 has been dilapidated for several months and may collapse. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), which is responsible for maintaining the railway stations in Navi Mumbai, has put iron bars on the platform to support it and to ensure that the slab does not collapse.
Anticipating accidents and loss of life, railway authorities have banned entry to the platform. However no concrete steps have been taken to solve the issue permanently.
Currently, the trains of the harbour and trans-harbour lines are using the other platforms of the station, except platform 5 and 6. These two will be operational once the Nerul-Belapur-Uranand Seawoods railway project has started. Commuters are bound to face problems if the issue is not resolved before that.
“We noticed the damaged slab a few months ago. Considering the safety of the commuters we informed Cidco. Its officials visited the station within a few days and after conducting an audit, they found that the slab is dangerous,” said an official from Nerul station who did not wish to be identified.
“Cidco officials told us they will take time to find a permanent solution as they might have to demolish the entire slab and reconstruct it,” he added.
The Nerul-Belapur-Uranand Seawoods railway project envisages nine new railway stations. The first phase will have five stations and the next phase will have four.
“The authorities can spend hundreds of crores of rupees to develop new railway stations. But they are unable to maintain the existing stations used by the residents. They will have to spend just a few lakh rupees to repair the slab but they are turning a blind eye to the issue and putting commuters at risk,” said Mahesh Salve, 35, a Nerul resident.
“Even the roofs of the station’s two foot over bridges have been damaged and the plaster has started giving in. The authorities have put a net under the roofs to prevent accidents. Needless to say, such roofs cannot protect us from the rain,” said Mallika Das, 36, another resident.
“We have sent a proposal of repairing the slab and the work will be started soon. If need be we will reconstruct the slab to make it safe for the commuters,” said Ranjan Gaokar, deputy engineer of Cidco (railways).