Trains to Matheran may resume soon

Updated: May 21, 2020, 07:17 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Residents of the hill town had complained that in the absence of trains, the only way essential supplies reached them was via hand-carts and horsebacks

Closed shops in the area
Closed shops in the area

Matheran residents, who had been complaining of lack of transport for basic essentials, may now get their trains back. Following a court order, the district collector has now approached Central Railway to get the services of the narrow gauge train service from Aman Lodge to Matheran restored.

The 6,500 residents in the hill town are currently dependent on about 460 horses and a few hand carts for essential supplies.

mid-day had last month highlighted how residents of Matheran had appealed that just allowing one tempo service a day would save their problems of essential supplies. Motorised vehicles are not allowed in Matheran due to it being an eco-sensitive zone and things had been getting difficult with very few hand-cart labourers and a limited number of horses available to ferry essentials.

The residents had approached the court, which has now led the district collector to look into options. "The district collector had approached the Central Railway about Matheran train services," a senior CR official confirmed.

Local residents said there had been positive movement. "On Sunday, a team of railway officials visited Matheran to sanitise rail coaches and stations. Two passenger coaches and two goods coaches were in the process of being sanitised on Sunday. On Monday, a few trials were done," local resident Sunil Shinde, who has been spearheading the demand said.

As per Eco-Sensitive Zone February 2003 notification, motorised vehicles are banned in Matheran and hand-rickshaws and horses are used for transportation of goods.

"We feel trapped on the hill with all essential utilities coming on horseback for a premium and becoming unaffordable. The labour that was pulling hand carts too went away a few days into the lockdown and only horses have been left for transportation of goods. This has led to a spike in rates with R100 for LPG cylinder transport," he added.

The Matheran Municipal Council asked the Raigad district collector to allow tempos to ferry essential goods, but the permission was denied since the matter was sub-judice.

6.5k
No. of residents in Matheran

460
No. of horses being used to ferry goods up the hill

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