The familiar 1.2-km long nullah flowing underneath railway tracks on the Bandra-Khar stretch of the Western Railway network is making MP Priya Dutt see red. And she’s not alone in her fury. Every monsoon, the shallow nullah 24-25, which has its final outfall in the Chamdavadi nullah, routinely inundates the railway tracks, disrupting train services and the lives of thousands of train commuters.
This 1.2-km long nullah is about 2.5-metre wide, which at points beneath the track narrows to a mere 70 cm, making it prone to flooding. Locals of the area petitioned for widening of the nullah as far back as 2009, but the matter is still being shunted from one department to another, each claiming with equal vehemence that the other is responsible for the task.
While the WR officials drew out a mountain of files to establish that they have been in correspondence with BMC for funds, the civic body shifted the blame right back, saying that the railways were supposed to widen the nullah.
MP Dutt recently took up cudgels on behalf of commuters, and dispatched a letter to the powers that be at the Indian Railways, demanding to know why the nullah hasn’t been widened yet. In the reply from Mukul Roy’s office, railway authorities passed on the blame to the BMC, saying that the authorities of the local Western Railways (WR) are yet to receive funds from the BMC for widening work.
“It is not an easy job to widen these drains, and work would take at least 18 months. There is no objection to widening from our end, but until the BMC provides funds, we cannot carry out this work,” said an official from WR. Sandeep Silas, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), said, “We are in talks with the BMC on this issue.”
As these vague ‘talks’ continue, the overflowing nullah continues to give the BMC enough mucky water with which to wash its hands of the matter.
Responding to WR’s allegations with his own set of counterclaims, L Vatkar, chief engineer, Storm Water Drains, said, “The railways are not widening the nullah which flows beneath the tracks. Moreover, they are not giving us permission to survey the Chamdavadi nullah, where illegal shanties have come up which need to be shifted.”
As per the proposal, the drain should be widened to 3.5 metre. Sources in WR claim that they require around Rs 7 crore for this work.
It’s not just railway commuters who are inconvenienced — the turbid waters of the nullah have sunk lanes in the neighbouring residential areas one time too many. “We have been pursuing this matter for years now.
Every year there is flooding,” said Rahul Pai, resident of Jai Bharat Society at Khar, which is situated at one end of the Chamdavadi nullah. Members of this society await the monsoons with particular dread every year, as the inundated nullah causes intense water logging in their area, wreaking havoc on everyday life and making the locality unsanitary. Every time the nullah overflows its banks, it brings with itself the unwelcome dregs of silt, garbage and muck.
Stop-gap solutions seem to be the only option. Nitin David, spokesperson, WR, said, “The cleaning of this nullah is done by the BMC. We have placed nine pumps on Bandra-Khar stretch to drain out water from rail tracks.” Dutt’s secretary confirmed that a letter had been sent to railway authorities, but said that the MP was busy at a function.
Rs 7 cr
The amount required to widen the 1.2-km shallow nullah
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