The slums above Parsik tunnel in Thane have affected the foundation of the structure. File pic
After turning a blind eye to the dilapidated condition of the Parsik tunnel in Thane for years, the state government and Indian Railways have finally decided to take cognisance of the issue. The ever-increasing slum population around the tunnel has only worsened the foundation of the centuries-old structure. The tunnel was built in 1873.
According to sources in the Railways, forest department officials will be surveying the area around the tunnel and getting rid of the slums that have mushroomed in the vicinity. The decision was taken at a meeting yesterday, the source added.
Confirming the development, DK Sharma, general manager, Central and Western Railways, said, "The land above Parsik tunnel belongs to the forest department. They will start the demolition work soon."
Over the past few months, local trains have been running slowly while entering the tunnel as water from the nearby slums has seeped into the tunnel, making the structure weak. Sources in the Central Railway said that at present there is a speed restriction of 15-20 kmph inside the tunnel, which also affects the punctuality of the trains. Every time a train enters this tunnel, it loses 3 minutes on punctuality, the official said.
The bigger problem, however, is the illegal slums that have come up in the vicinity. The trees around the area have been axed and replaced by these slum pockets. Currently, there are more than 100 slums above the tunnel.
Deforestation has aggravated the problem as soil erosion above the tunnel has created more leakages. During monsoon, rain water seeps through the cracked ceiling of this tunnel weakening its foundation.
The railways had built a wall to prevent slum dwellers from encroaching the tracks. But, in June last year, part of the 34-metre retaining wall near the tunnel had collapsed.