175 trees to be axed for new Thane-Diva lines

The rail development entity has been working on 5th and 6th lines for eight years, but has also not been able to rehabilitate the people living in legal and illegal structures on this stretch, or solve other issues

It has been nearly 8 years now since work on the two additional lines — the 5th and 6th — has been underway between Thane and Diva. The delay has resulted in cost escalation for this project from R133 crore to R290 crore now. The reason behind the delays of this World Bank funded project has been clarified by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) — the entity blames the infringement of 175 plus trees, apart from rehabilitation of people staying in buildings and other issues near Diva.

A review meeting was held by MRVC a couple of days back. Sources said that the World Bank has pulled up the MRVC authorities for the delay in this project; it also expressed its displeasure on the slow pace in which the new Integral Coach Factory (ICF) rakes are coming in, at the meeting that took place on August 10.

The officials from MRVC agreed on the factors causing the delays, and they also pointed out to the several trees that exist between the Thane-Diva stretch, illegal and legal occupants of buildings who need to be rehabilitated, and the political interference that frequently stops work on this stretch.

Problems galore
“There are nearly 175 trees that need to be chopped for this line. Moreover, people need to be rehabilitated,” said an MRVC official. Most of these buildings house over 100 families, according to railway authorities, and a bulk of them are illegal in nature, yet time is wasted on their rehabilitation process. The problem is most acute near Diva station where rampant illegal development of buildings has taken place.

Earlier this year there was a rail roko at Diva after people died while trespassing.

The train services on slow line were shut during this time after which an additional foot over bridge was constructed.
Officials from Central Railway said that work on a tunnel has been almost completed, along with a nullah for water to flow with ease during the monsoon.

“We are trying to complete the work as soon as possible. There are a few issues like rehabilitation of people and chopping of trees that need to be solved,” said Prabhat Ranjan, chief PRO, MRVC. The entity has also proposed to add a new platform at Diva station so that both fast and slow trains can halt there. There is political interference also on this stretch while the existing Members of Parliament and other politicians are doing little to tackle the problem.

“We are having regular discussions with the local people and railway authorities to resolve the issues,” said MP Shrikant Shinde, when asked about his role in solving this matter.

Meanwhile the delay in adding two new lines is also affecting the local train services everyday. “Everyday around 4-5 minutes are lost between Kalyan and Diva as the number of tracks are reduced. This affects our punctuality too,” said a CR official, requesting anonymity.

Everyday more than 725 services ply on the Main line of CR. Once the new lines comes in, then long distance trains will ply on them leaving more leeway for local trains.

Presently there are fifth and sixth lines between Kurla Terminus and Thane, and beyond Diva further north.

Rs 290crore The escalated cost of constructing the 5th and 6th lines

100 No of families that have to be rehabilitated

725 No of services that ply on the main line of the CR daily

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