Prepare to swim through Milan Subway next monsoon as well

Rail overbridge connecting Santacruz and Vile Parle won't open any time soon, as MMRDA awaits clearances, sets March as new deadline but sources say don't expect it to get done before next September

The MMRDA has once again missed the deadline for completing the Milan Subway rail overbridge (ROB) at Santacruz before monsoon. The authority had said that by October, the ROB would be open to public, but looking at the amount of work still pending, it has re-revised the finish date to March 2012.

Bridge over troubled waters: Every monsoon, there is heavy
water-logging at the Milan subway. The latest delay will push commuters
knee-deep in troubled waters yet again. File pic

However, sources in the MMRDA say that people may have to sail through the subway even next monsoon, as the final approval by the Western Railway is not yet in place.

"If permissions from the Western Railway do not come in the coming weeks, then people will not see the project completed even by next monsoon. The project, which promises to cut commuting time to barely four minutes from an hour at present, will be completed only in September next year," said an MMRDA official requesting anonymity.

During monsoons, water logging in the low-lying Milan subway is a massive headache for commuters and motorists. Even in other seasons, it takes around an hour to cross the subway during rush hours. The news of delay in completing the flyover will push commuters knee-deep in troubled waters during the rainy season.

Its early completion is crucial as the subway is the only route connecting Santacruz East and West.

Deadline skipped
In an official statement released by MMRDA in February this year, it was clearly stated that motorists and Mumbaikars would be able to use the much-awaited ROBĀ -- which will run over the railway tracks between Santacruz and Vile ParleĀ -- before monsoon in 2011. But the authority failed to keep its word and commuters had to wade through the waist-high water in the subway.

MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar said, "We have the in-principle approval from the railways, and we are expecting a final clearance from them soon."

Over a week ago, after a meeting between MMRDA and WR officials, an official said, "A final approval from Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS) is awaited for the ROB. Meanwhile all other clearances of designs have come through and been agreed upon by the railways."

Approach roads or ramps on both the ends of the bridge are ready. But the steel bridge would be constructed over railway tracks between Santacruz and Vile Parle whenever traffic blocks are permitted by the railways.

The MMRDA started constructing the 700-m bridge at an estimated cost of Rs 41.50 crore in 2008, and the original deadline of the project was June 2010. Since then, there have been several hurdles such as rehabilitation and resettlement of project-affected persons, permission from railways, political pressure, absence of labourers after Raj Thackeray's anti-North Indians campaign and so on.

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