Irked with no progress on their demand for an overbridge at Ghorpadi-Mundhwa railway level crossing, nearly 15,000 residents have signed a petition and are in the process of sending it to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention. Residents are hoping that their signature campaign will pile pressure on the Army authorities to release land for the construction of the overpass.
For several years residents have been demanding that a rail overbridge be constructed, which will bring a solution to the perennial traffic problems and facilitate pedestrian crossing at the railway level-crossing gates in the area. But with the Army citing security concerns, residents have been compelled to take their grievances to the PM.
Interestingly, railway authorities have shown their willingness to construct the bridge, but the Army is hesitating to give away the land by putting forward their security reasons. Residents, who have also formed a Railway Overbridge Committee (ROB), are contemplating taking to the streets by holding a silent march on May 1, if concerned authorities ignore their demands.
“We collected 15,000 signatures from residents of BT Kawde Road, Ghorpadi and Pingale Wasti in just two hours, which shows the gravity of the situation,” said convener of ROB, Lt Col (Retd) MK Gupta Ray. He added that the frequent and prolonged closure of railway level crossing on both sides of Ghorpadi area (Solapur and Miraj line) severely cripple traffic movement.
“Apart from155 passenger trains, several goods trains also ply daily on the Ghorpadi-Mundhwas railway line. Consequently, the gates of the level crossing remain closed for around 12 hours daily due to which scores of people are affected,” said Gupta Ray.
The inhabitants have knocked the door of almost each authority, sharing their woes. “We approached the Pune Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak, the Army commander of Southern Command and also dispatched letters to the Army Chief and state Chief Secretary. However, the civic body says that the Army is not ready to give the land. As an alternative, the authorities have floated a plan to construct a bridge from Hadapsar. But, this proposed bridge does not serve the purpose,” said Col (Retd) R Jadhav, a member of ROB.
Defence Public Relation Officer Pune Sanjay Arvikar said that according to a study conducted by them, the prevalent traffic within the Cantonment was found to be more than the actual capacity, leading to traffic congestion during peak hours. “The study also revealed that the construction of an overbridge at Ghorpadi would further aggravate the situation while putting several key military installations at risk. An alternate site has been identified which offers a practical solution, as well as addresses the concerns of all stake holders,” said Arvikar. He added that the proposal has accordingly been forwarded to the civic body by military authorities.
Death due to closed gates
In 2011, a child met with an accident near Bharat Forge Company, and was being rushed to the hospital. The gate of Ghorpadi-Mundhwa railway level crossing, however, was shut for 15 minutes, leading to the death of the child due to delay in reaching the hospital.