Bombay HC raps government for casual approach in safeguarding Thane tunnel

The Bombay High Court today pulled up the Maharashtra government, the Railways and Thane civic body for their "callous and casual" approach towards safety of a tunnel on the Central Railway line in neighbouring Thane district and those living around it.

Taking suo moto (on its own) cognisance of the issue, a division bench of justices A S Oka and Vibha Kankanwadi expressed concern over the danger that the Parsik tunnel on the Central Railway line at Mumbra in Thane faces due to over 200 illegal shanties, which have come up around the tunnel.

"Nobody is worried about the issue. Neither the government, nor the Central Railway or the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC)," Justice Oka said.

"Last year, the encroachments resulted in a landslide due to which the Central Railway traffic came to a halt. In the past one year, no authority has taken any step to ensure that the incident is not repeated in this monsoon," he said.

"This is complete sorry state of affairs. The approach of all the authorities appears to be very casual and callous. Each authority is only shifting the blame and responsibility to the other. Nobody wants to take any action," he observed.

The court noted that since the authorities have failed to initiate any step to safeguard the tunnel and the lives of the hundreds of railway passengers, it has taken suo moto cognisance of the issue.

"We are of the view that it is necessary to initiate suo moto Public Interest Litigation so that appropriate directions can be issued," Justice Oka said.

"Due to the total casual approach shown by the government, civic body (Thane) and Railways, appropriate directions will have to be issued by the high court to find a remedy to the problem," he said.

The court was hearing an application filed by the Central Railway seeking to vacate a July 2016 order of the high court
granting stay on eviction of the hutments around the Parsik tunnel at Mumbra in Thane.

After a landslide in the area last June, the TMC had issued eviction notices to the shanties. The tunnel, that cuts right through the Parsik hill, is an important link for the Central Railway's suburban and long distance lines. The dwellers had then approached the high court.

Later, the HC stayed the eviction notice and asked the Thane civic body to first work out a rehabilitation scheme for the hutment dwellers.

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