Around 50,000 sq feet of land adjacent to Grant Road station, containing an obsolete parcel depot will soon be put to use, after a decision was taken by Western Railway (WR) to set up a mechanised linen washing plant. After years of disuse, the now defunct parcel depot will be remodelled completely to house a linen washing plant for long distance trains. The proposed Rs 15 crore transition, however, may not yet see the light of day, as a hitch has thrown a wrench in the works.
While the Western Railway (WR) authorities had initially proposed a gas based washing plant, their recent meeting with the Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) proved unfruitful. “The MGL officials said that they will have to install a new line altogether in order to supply gas at the proposed site at Grant Road,” said a WR official on condition of anonymity.
The MGL authorities claim that their network is weak in South Mumbai. “We have informed them [Western Railway] that the project at present is not feasible,” said a spokesperson for MGL. MGL also stated that laying new lines only for this purpose will require them to dig deep, and they might have to shift underground utilities at certain places.
Built in 1890, the parcel depot was once a rail hub meant for loading and unloading of goods, but is hardly functional now. As per the plan, nearly 20,000 sq feet of land will be used to setup a mechanised linen washing plant. The remaining land will be developed and station offices and buildings will be shifted there. The overall cost of the entire project is estimated to cost Rs 80 crore.
There was another issue of the cost incurred on developing of this plot for the washing plant by a private developer. Sources said that it has been finally decided that the land will be leased at a measly cost of Re 1 per sq foot. “There were certain issues like levying land leasing fee, which has now been sorted out,” said Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, WR.
Once the plant is set up at Grant Road, it would help in transporting pillow covers, bed sheets and linen used by passengers of long distance trains much faster, which otherwise is done by road or incoming trains. Presently, the WR does not have any washing plant in Mumbai and has to depend on local dhobis, private contractors and their plant at Surat.
Other plans for the depot:
>> The first option was to demolish the parcel depot, build a multi-department administrative building at a cost of Rs 10 crore and shift WR offices there.
>> The second option was to use this plot to build a maintenance centre for outstation trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi that use Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches.