History will repeat itself this year, when monsoons will bring in not just rains but also a host of other problems such as waterlogging on train tracks, rotting filth and garbage dumps. While, railways officials and civic authorities are more interested in passing the buck, it is the commuter who will be at the receiving end.
At a recent meeting convened between the Central Railway (CR) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), railway authorities were informed by the latter that they have failed to completely remove garbage and muck from the culverts and drains bypassing the railway lines.
“The work of removing the trash began from February. I also inspected the work on May 22 right up to Kalyan station,” said Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway. It is a known fact that slums along the tracks make it difficult to clean up the area. Sources said that the stretch between Sion and Kurla on the central line and Raoli junction between Wadala and King Circle railway stations are responsible for the forming of a ‘saucer’ an area where water accumulates faster resulting in waterlogging.
Each year before the monsoons, the railways are given the responsibility of removing the garbage dumped on tracks and nullahs along the tracks whereas BMC is responsible for cleaning up big drains and culverts. Railway officials claim that the BMC has not even widened the drains, which could have salvaged the situation. “The BMC had an entire year to get the work done, yet not much work has been completed,” a railway official said.
Owing to the city’s topography, these drains crisscross the catchments and the railway lines often lead to the sea. The culverts are also blocked by garbage that gets stuck due to its narrow circumference. At many locations, roads that run parallel to tracks are at a higher height, which may result in water accumulation on the tracks.
Many commuters on the CR line complain that garbage and muck has not been removed. With barely a week to go for June normally the time when the rains hit the city garbage is still being dumped along railway tracks. “Recently, the railways demolished old walls and replaced them with new ones but the problem is at many places the contractor dumped rubbles from the old wall adding to the existing muck,” said Subhash Gupta, a railway passenger activist.
However, railway officials claim that they have already begun the work of clearing out garbage. About 150 workers have been put to task and over 12,000 cubic meters of muck has been cleared out so far. The work will continue till the beginning of the monsoon season.
Sources in the BMC said that problems would occur only if it rains heavily for hours. “We will again have a joint visit to local wards and check the tracks. The work of cleaning culverts and drains is still underway,” said L Vatkar, chief engineer, storm water drains. The BMC claims that till now about 40 percent of the cleaning up has been completed and they’ve covered around 120 kms of stretch through the city. And 1.20 lakh cubic meters of muck from drains have been removed.