DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

against Mha­tre. He said that on the same day he got to know that some il­le­gal con­struc­tion is be­ing car­ried out in the area and that the work was done by Son­ali Con­struc­tions owned by San­jay Mha­tre. When he asked around, some­one called a Bharat Mha­tre. “Both men al­legedly beat me and my friend and locked them in a nearby gala,” said Pa­gare.

“We are ver­i­fy­ing both the al­le­ga­tions and no ar­rests have been made yet,” says S J Shir­sath, se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor, Vithal­wadi po­lice sta­tion. This April, the work on the ad­di­tional tracks on the Thane- Diva stretch will en­ter its tenth year, how­ever, the work is nowhere close to com­plete, show­ing how se­ri­ously the In­dian Rail­ways ac­tu­ally take project dead­lines. Tired of the seem­ingly never- end­ing de­lay, com­muters have now taken to so­cial me­dia to voice their protest.

The work for the fifth and sixth lines be­tween Thane and Diva be­gan in 2008 un­der Mum­bai Ur­ban Trans­port Project- 2, how­ever, the au­thor­i­ties haven’t been able to com­plete the work on the 9.9- km stretch un­til now. The de­lay has also re­sulted in losses to the pub­lic ex­che­quer. Once ready, the lines will seg­re­gate long- dis­tance trains from the sub­ur­ban ser­vices, en­abling more sub­ur­ban trains to run on the fast line.

“The rail­ways are never se­ri­ous about ex­e­cut­ing projects be­yond Thane. Look at the de­lay in the work on the 5th and 6th rail lines be­tween Thane- Diva. Is there any dead­line for this?” ques­tioned U Patil, a res­i­dent of Thane.

The Mum­bai Rail Vikas Cor­po­ra­tion ( MRVC), which is com­plet­ing the project, claims to have faced many hur­dles. “There were over 450 il­le­gal struc­tures and build­ings that had to be cleared over the years. Th­ese were po­lit­i­cal vote banks that de­layed things. Now we aim to get the project ready by March 2019,” said an of­fi­cial from MRVC.

The ear­lier dead­line was De­cem­ber 2017. The 5th and 6th lines will run be­tween Kurla LTT- Thane and Di­vaKalyan. It will seg­re­gate mail/ ex­press ser­vices from the lo­cal trains and al­low Cen­tral Rail­way to add 100 more lo­cal train ser­vices on the route. Farm­ers from Diva, Agasan, Mathardi will gather in front of the Thane Dis­trict Col­lec­tor’s of­fice on May 10 in order to protest the state’s ac­qui­si­tion of their lands for the bul­let train project. Farm­ers, who will be at a loss of over 500 acres of land, are protest­ing the land ac­qui­si­tion for Mum­bai- Ahmed­abad High Speed Rail Cor­ri­dor ( or bul­let train) al­leg­ing that the ac­qui­si­tion will add salt to their in­juries.

Farm­ers al­leged that in the past the gov­ern­ment has taken away their lands for ur­ban­i­sa­tion and has stopped their sources of liveli­hood. “The gov­ern­ment has al­ways taken away our lands for build­ing MIDC, HUDCO, CIDCO, ports, air­ports, rail­way in the name of de­vel­op­ment. Later, the com­pa­nies and mills on th­ese plots closed and the land was sold to real es­tate de­vel­op­ers at sky high prices while we got a shabby deal,” said Govind Bha­gat, pres­i­dent, Aa­gri Yu­vak Sang­hatna ( AYUS), Ma­ha­rash­tra.

He said the farm­ers from Vi­rar to Shil Phata as well as from Gu­jarat would op­pose the project. “We do not want to give away our land for bul­let train or any gov­ern­ment project. And we will in­ten­sify our strug­gle if we are forced to,” Bha­gat said.

Dr Prashant Nar­naware, col­lec­tor of Pal­ghar, who is also act­ing col­lec­tor for Thane in the ab­sence of Dr Ma­hen­dra Kalyankar ( on leave for a month) was un­avail­able for com­ments.

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