Mumbai: Ugly reality lurks just beneath glitzy new deck at Andheri station

Right under the new ticketing area which was inaugurated on Monday lies a partly cemented plot which has heaps of stones and garbage and puddles of stagnant water; the plot is meant to be used for the harbour line extension, work on which was supposed to have been completed last year

On Monday, when MP Gopal Shetty inaugurated a new booking office and an elevated circulating area at Andheri station, he hailed the station as an iconic one. And the bright lights, tiled floor, escalators and ticket windows in the new area support that claim. Take one look beneath the elevated deck, however, and you notice a stark contrast.

The plot underneath the new elevated booking office. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
The plot underneath the new elevated booking office. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Passengers have to walk past a shabby plot that is littered with heaps of stones and garbage and has puddles of stagnant water. This is the same plot which will be used to extend the Harbour line to Goregaon a project that was supposed to have been complete in November last year and continues to be in limbo even now, largely because the BMC has missed at least three deadlines for the completion of a rail over bridge (ROB) at Jogeshwari station.

Officials from the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which is handling the Harbour line extension, say the completion of the ROB is a must because only after the bridge is constructed can they shut a level crossing in Jogeshwari, which they need to do to be able to lay tracks on the patch.

MP Gopal Shetty purchases a ticket after inaugurating ticket windows at the Andheri station on Monday
MP Gopal Shetty purchases a ticket after inaugurating ticket windows at the Andheri station on Monday

“The civic body was supposed to complete the work on the ROB in May last year and had then asked for an extension till March, which they failed to adhere to and have now missed yet another deadline, which was May 31. The work is still in progress,” said a senior railway official requesting of anonymity.

The ROB is supposed to connect the Western Express Highway with Swami Vivekanand Road, and could be extended to join the Link Road. Problems related to the relocation of slum dwellers along the railway tracks has reportedly affected the completion of the ROB.

“We can complete the work on the extended Harbour line within six months from the date the ROB is ready and the level crossing is shut,” said an MRVC official, adding that tracks have already been laid in several locations north of the crossing.

The MRVC is also, however, yet to finish shifting a nullah between Goregaon and Jogeshwari to lay tracks for the Harbour line extension. The incomplete work on the nullah could lead to flooding of tracks on the Western Railway during the monsoon. Despite repeated attempts, Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas could not be reached for comment.

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