Mumbai safety audit: Bandra station struggles as encroachment eat into station's space

Oct 13, 2017, 11:20 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

The station at tony Bandra, which sees the third-highest number of commuters exiting and entering at any given point of time, stands woefully neglected with poor connectivity to BKC and narrow FOBs due to encroachments

Encroachment is the problem at the station of one of city's poshest suburbs — Bandra. So much so that not only has the station's expansion been stuck due to slums that have sprouted on railway land, but they have also become a law and order problem.

The exponential rise in the station's commuter numbers after business hub Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) came up and railway's efforts to put in more infrastructure have not matched, making a stampede-like situation during peak hours an everyday affair.

Commuters walk on the east-west connecting foot overbridge at Bandra station, which has four-storey slums on either side, making the walk hot and claustrophobic
Commuters walk on the east-west connecting foot overbridge at Bandra station, which has four-storey slums on either side, making the walk hot and claustrophobic

The lone entry-exit point at Currey Road station. Pic/Sameer Markande
The lone entry-exit point at Currey Road station. Pic/Sameer Markande

The slum industry
The station is the interchange for Western Railway and Central Railway's Harbour line with connectivity to both Churchgate and CSMT.

"The four-storey slums on both sides of the bridge is actually a small-scale industry. They work on garments and have all kinds of heavy-duty machines using huge amount of electricity. I don't know who provides them the power and if they even pay bills. It's very risky on that bridge, which is always jam-packed; but it's the only option. Not to mention, it's always sweltering just to step on that foot overbridge due to these units. I wonder what would happen if there was an accident?" said Akash Trivedi, who works at BKC.

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One can see that the WR has been undertaking infrastructural work — new bridges coming up, existing getting upgrades. Unfortunately, all of it is on the north side, when the real need is on the south at the Churchgate-end as it's the side that connects to BKC.

New infrastructure at the station is limited to the north end, but the real need is at the south end, encroached by slums. Pics/Bipin Kokate
New infrastructure at the station is limited to the north end, but the real need is at the south end, encroached by slums. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Years of damage
A new 12-metre-wide bridge was recently built at the south end, but it stops halfway due to the encroachments and defeats the purpose of its construction. Ironically, the Mumbai suburban collector and other main offices are located just a kilometre away from there. It is also ironical that the railways is developing Bandra East side with the help of UNESCO, while the west is being royally ignored.

Also read: Elphinstone stampede impact: Railway station infrastructure audit begins

"It's high time that local politicians stopped patronising slums and sat with the dwellers to rehabilitate them elsewhere. It's become a death trap for commuters. A fire had erupted here, gutting all the slums, and yet new ones keep coming up. I myself have seen the changes here over the years," said Laxman Jejurikar, 60, who stays at Bandra Colony and commuted to Marine Lines for work for 25 years.

According to a survey conducted by the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and Wilbur Smith, the station sees 4,91,106 passengers, the third-highest on WR, entering and exiting at any time, after Churchgate and Andheri.

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Problem areas
* New 12-metre-wide bridge at Churchgate-end of station built only halfway due to encroachments
* Commuters having to walk on a narrow FOB, with four-storey slums on either side radiating heat, to go to BKC
* A narrow platform on the Harbour line, which sees heavy crowds

10 m The width of the newly sanctioned foot overbridge that will replace 3-m FOB
4.91 Lakh The number of passengers that use Bandra station, the third highest on WR

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