Thane: Blame game over tunnel collapse

Civic body and railways tried to pass the blame onto each other after rail minister sent a team to inspect the Parsik Hill tunnel that partially collapsed and caused massive disruptions to Central Railway services

After both the Central and Western Railway suffered massive disruptions within the first two days of the monsoon, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu sent a team of 22 senior officials to inspect the monsoon preparations made by the suburban railway administration. Predictably, the inspection led to the local authorities playing the blame game. One of the biggest issues was the partial collapse of the Parsik Hill tunnel on the Kalyan end of the Central line, which not only led to several trains being cancelled on Tuesday, but is the reason why trains are still running late.

A portion of the damaged retaining wall is still hanging precariously from the slope. Pic/Sameer Markande
A portion of the damaged retaining wall is still hanging precariously from the slope. Pic/Sameer Markande

After the inspection team visited the tunnel yesterday and saw the extent of the damage, neither the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) nor the railway officials refused to take responsibility. Parsik hill has been infested with illegal slums and shanties and the landslide that occurred on June 21 exposed its ill-effects.

“I have been informed that only the Parsik tunnel and tracks fall under the railway’s jurisdiction. Had the TMC and other concerned agencies taken precautionary measures then the situation wouldn’t have been so alarming,” said Railway Board executive director (Civil Engineering), Satish Pandey, who went to the site along with an officer the Research, Design and Standards Organisation.

While the railways claimed that the area was under the TMC’s jurisdiction, the civic body stated that it is the forest department that owns the land. “This land belongs to the Forest Department and we do not have information on the shanties and structures that have encroached on the hill. It is the Forest Department’s job to remove them,” said a senior official from TMC.

‘Tear it down’
The Railways have now asked the municipal authorities to knock down the entire 39- metre wall and pull the debris towards the road, in order to prevent it from falling on the tracks. “This wall has not been properly designed and that is why this problem occurred. We have now placed two men each towards the top and bottom of the affected portion to keep a watch,” said Railway Board official Satish Pandey. Sources in CR said they expect TMC to start this work in the next two to three days and the railways will also supervise to ensure the tracks are not damaged in the process.

‘Will raze slums’
An official from the Territorial Range of Thane Forest Department told mid-day, “We know there are illegal slums that have come up at Parsik hill. It is difficult to say how many slums are there, but time and again, we have been taking action against illegal structures. In the coming months, we will clear the slums again.”

Still a problem

10 metres
The length of the wall that was damaged by the landslide

The portion of damaged wall that still hangs precariously from the slopes and threatens to fall on the tracks

10 minutes
The amount of delay that fast services will suffer between Thane and Kalyan because of the tunnel

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