Strife in a Metro

Oct 04, 2018, 08:02 IST | Hemal Ashar

We support the Metro II line being over the ground, says a group of residents, on the eve of a protest organised to put forth the demand of making the elevated corridor underground

Strife in a Metro
Deyasini Choudhary, Mrunal A, Kiran Bajekal and Nikhil Mogre at the Metro II work site. Pic/Bipin Kokate

There is strife in a Metro as a protest has been organised on Friday afternoon at Sacred Heart Boys School in Santacruz. Protestors will gather to demand that the elevated Metro II (Metro IIB) line be built underground. The October 5 action is the latest in a line of protests about this corridor. Metro II will be built in two parts — Dahisar to DN Nagar (Metro IIA) and DN Nagar to Mankhurd (Metro IIB), which will connect DN Nagar to Mankhurd via Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).

Though protests against the elevated line and support for an underground Metro II have been gaining traction, there are dissenting voices. A group of residents from the western suburbs are firm in their support for an overground line.

Flooding fears
Deyasini Choudhary from Santacruz spoke out in favour of an overground line. "The underground is prone to flooding during the monsoon," she said, buttressing her argument with, "When Mumbai went underwater this year, the overground Metro from Andheri to Ghatkopar was the only transportation that was working."

The banner announcing the protest against an elevated Metro
The banner announcing the protest against an elevated Metro

Others who support the overground corridor have claimed that protests against the elevated line "are not well thought out and without any technical basis". "The movers and shakers behind these protests are those who use chauffeur-driven cars, not public transport," they scoffed. For Kiran Bajekal, "An underground Metro would be a virtual death trap on SV Road, because pockets here are prone to flooding. Water is bound to enter the underground Metro stations, leading to a disaster."

All for elevated
Giving a big thumbs up to the line being elevated, Nikhil Mogre said, "In my schooldays, one could not go beyond Juhu Scheme because it was marshy land. A lot of the current development is on reclaimed land. The soil here is soft; we have seen a number of cave-ins in 2017. Digging for an underground line means a possibility of cave-ins.

"We have heard of structures developing cracks because of digging for Metro. Please heed all agitations taking place in South Mumbai over fears of damage to religious structures. With the line being overground, one escapes such problems." When told that a swathe of suburbanites are shouting 'discrimination' because SoBo is getting an underground Metro, while they are not, the overground supporters dismissed it as an "ego trip". They added that a large section of those crying for an underground line is architects and builders, to profit from it.

Protecting the green
The elevated line proponents added that more trees would need to be cut for an underground line than an elevated one. They signed off, "We felt compelled to speak out, because of the robust campaign by those shouting about the need for an underground Metro. People think there is only one voice for Metro II line. We are for the overground, people need to hear that loud and clear."

'No ego trip'
Anandini Thakoor, trustee 'H' West Citizens' Trust and leader of the Friday protest against an elevated Metro II, dismissed the dissenting voices. "If there is dissent, it may be from a BJP lobby. We are being treated as second-class citizens. Why should South Mumbai get an underground line, while this area, especially Bandra to Andheri, with its high density of population and congestion is made to suffer? Metro pillars will add to the space crunch and children will be even more hard-pressed to cross the road than they are now. We are thinking about all these problems; how can this be an ego trip?" she asked angrily.

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