'Was elevated rail proposal stuck because of FSI?', HC asks Maharashtra

The Bombay High Court today asked Maharashtra Government to explain why a proposal of elevated rail corridor on the city's suburban network has been kept in limbo for the last six years.

The information was sought by the High Court after counsel for Railways said that a proposal of elevated rail corridor had been sent to the State Government six years ago by Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation but it was not considered perhaps because of the issue pertaining to Floor Space Index.

A bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil asked the State government to file an affidavit by February 3, stating whether the proposal was stuck because of FSI or any other issue.

The HC was hearing a suo motu (on its own) PIL which was converted out of a letter written by A B Thakker urging reservation of a separate compartment for senior citizens in local trains. Several issues had cropped up during the course of hearing, including overcrowding in trains.

"Nearly 3000 people die every year on the railway tracks and we are just not bothered (about it). It is time that we (Court) will have to step in...the convenience of the people (commuters) has to be seen and better administration and better governance," the bench observed.

The court had on last occasion asked the State to consider changing timings of offices, schools and colleges to prevent overcrowding in suburban local trains.

The state government said it had issued an order providing one hour relaxation in office timings for Mantralaya employees from January 1, 2015. However, if an employee reached office late, then he has to compensate by working for that duration after office hours.

The government also informed that it was considering the HC suggestion to change the timings of schools, colleges and statutory bodies during the peak hours to prevent overcrowding in trains.

Railway authorities had earlier told the court that it was not possible for them to introduce double decker trains on the suburban routes for commuters. The court had directed the Railways to consider providing a dedicated coach for senior citizens to ensure easy and safe access for them. The bench had asked the Railways to conduct a trial run on the concept.

The court had also asked Central Railway and Western Railways to ensure that 14 dedicated seats are made available to senior citizens in all suburban trains. "If there is a dedicated compartment for senior citizens in trains operating at a particular timing, senior citizens would rather wait for that train rather than get onto a crowded train," observed the HC.

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