Revealed! Why Khar subway in Mumbai's Western Suburbs turns into a drain every monsoon

Jul 19, 2018, 14:50 IST | Laxman Singh

Activists have discovered that sloppy drainage work along railway track is the reason rainwater gets dumped into the ageing underpass, flooding it

Revealed! Why Khar subway in Mumbai's Western Suburbs turns into a drain every monsoon
The storm water drains running along railway tracks empty straight into the subway, over passing cars and pedestrians

You can't drive through Khar subway in the monsoon without being greeted by the disgusting sight of dirty brown water flooding the underpass. What's even more revolting is that this isn't rainwater, but actually the discharge from storm water drains along the railway tracks. The water runs through the filthy gutters and then cascades down on unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians in the subway.

If you've ever wondered why the Khar Subway is always flooded even after the lightest shower, this is probably why. It was Khar resident and activist Zoru Bhathena who first observed the problem. "On the day of the bridge collapse in Andheri, I walked along the railway tracks from Khar Road to Santacruz station. It was raining lightly, but I was shocked to see that all the water from the tracks was directly discharged into Khar Subway," Bhathena recalled.

"This water from the railway tracks is the main contributor to flooding in the subway. The force of the water is such that no pedestrian can use the footpath on the subway. The authorities should have constructed a pipe to transport this huge quantity of water to a proper drain, instead of just discharging it into the subway," he added.

All the filthy water from the railway tracks cascades down onto unsuspecting pedestrians and vehicles in the subway
All the filthy water from the railway tracks cascades down onto unsuspecting pedestrians and vehicles in the subway

Filthy waterfall
mid-day visited the spot and found that even after light rain, the water from the railway gutter had completely washed out the subway. The gushing water crashed onto passing pedestrians and vehicles like a muddy waterfall. The force of the water has also broken and dislodged tiles in the underpass. This is just months after the subway was renovated by local BJP corporator Alka Kerkar and MLA Ashish Shelar. Both politicians have raised this issue with the civic body and the railways.

Khar Subway is an important underpass that connects traffic from west to east. Due to its low-lying position, it is already prone to flooding and often has to be shut during heavy rains, causing inconvenience to motorists. The BMC has kept a big dewatering pump there to clear the rainwater, but it is of no use in heavy rainfall.

On Sunday, trains on the western line were halted for close to an hour after the BMC and railways got a call from a citizen claiming that part of the subway was collapsing. Later, railway engineers visited the site and said there was no problem, and the subway is fit for use.

WR doesn't care
Sharad Ughade, assistant municipal commissioner of the H-West ward (Bandra, Khar), wrote to Western Railway's (WR) senior divisional engineer on July 11, complaining about the stormwater discharge. "The discharge from the railway tracks is adding to the flooding situation at Khar Subway, causing additional load on the stormwater drains of BMC. Also, pedestrians are unable to use the footpath on the subway. Hence, it is of utmost importance to arrest this flow, to give relief to pedestrians, as well as vehicular traffic."

However, the railways seem unwilling to do anything about the problem. Ravindra Bhakar, the chief public relations officer of WR, told mid-day, "The railways have replied to the BMC and stated that the structure is safe. This subway is a waterway bridge that is supposed to carry rainwater from the tracks. For vehicular movement, the BMC should construct a road overbridge at its own cost."

Also Read: Mumbai: Scare on Western Railway after claim of Khar subway being 'unstable, dangerous'

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