Railway blocks create hurdles for Ganpati darshan, Mount Mary fest
Mumbai: The first weekend of Ganeshotsav saw vast crowds and consequent traffic jams along central Mumbai and the suburbs. A few spells of rain added to commuter woes. Those travelling by train for Ganesh darshan, especially to the Lalbaugcha Raja pandal or the Mount Mary festival in Bandra faced a harrowing time.
Railway passengers were majorly inconvenienced due to megablocks on all three lines —Central Railway’s Main and Harbour, and Western Railway.
The rail blocks resulted in crowds on platforms, trains not available at some of the stations in the Up direction (towards CSMT) and packed coaches. Though some passengers complained that the megablocks extended beyond the deadline, CR chief spokesperson Sunil Udasi said the work was completed on time.
CR had announced curtailment of its block by an hour and said it will carry out maintenance work on Mulund-Matunga Up slow line from 11.10am till 3.10pm and on the Panvel-Vashi Up and Down Harbour lines from 11.30am till 3.30pm. But few commuters complained that they were inconvenienced till 4pm. Sources said that a train was stranded at Kurla due to signal problem (point failure) at 3pm.
On WR, the block was carried out from 11am to 3pm on Up slow line and Down fast line between Borivli and Bhayander stations, and those heading towards Bandra from Borivli faced inconvenience, sources said. A few trains were also cancelled during the block period, said an official, adding that citizens were given information about the megablocks aday in advance.
Sunday saw long queues of Ganpati devotees at Lalbaugcha Raja in Chinchpokli and Khetwadi’s multiple lanes, each with its own idol, as well as outside mandaps in the suburbs including Andheri, Borivli, Ghatkopar and Mulund.
Balasaheb Kamble, president of the Lalbaugcha Raja mandal, said, “It is impossible to say how many people arrived. But we have two queues —one for charan sparsh, that is to touch the feet of the idol, and the other for mukh darshan or just to get a glimpse. The waiting time was up to six hours in both queues, so clearly there was a heavy turnout. It rained a little in the morning, but it was just enough to increase visitors’ enthusiasm and not dampen it.”
Santosh Narkar of Khetwadicha Raja said devotees arrived through Saturday night. “The mandal members have not had time to eat a proper meal given the rush. Our pandal had to remain open through Saturday night. We closed from 6am to 8.30am Sunday, but since morning, we have not had any free time.”
At Bandra, devotees complained of indiscipline by autorickshaw drivers, some of whom were overcharging to ferry passengers for Mount Mary festival. “The BEST did a great job by arranging special bus services from outside the station. It was well organized and the bus inspectors ensured that the red buses left on time and commuters boarded in a queue,” said a Vasai resident, who had come for the festival.
The BEST operated around 100 services on Sunday to cater to the rush for the Bandra fest.