Even as Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announces station beautification project at ‘queen of suburbs’, rail land worth Rs 4,500 crore on the other side is a big mess
(Second from left onwards) BJP MP Poonam Mahajan, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor and president of BJP’s city unit Ashish Shelar during the announcement of the CSR initiative Chakachak Mumbai, at Bandra station on Sunday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu made a big announcement yesterday about Swachh Bharat in Bandra west and the need to keep rail land, premises and stations clean. Just a few meters on the east, however, is rail land worth Rs 4,500 crore covered in garbage and illegally occupied by slum dwellers.
The railways has said that it will revamp 36 stations in a week.
On Sunday, Prabhu talked about how the suburbs had grown exponentially over the years and, hence, they had selected Bandra, “the queen of suburbs”, instead of Churchgate for this function. There was much fanfare at the station near platform 1, with representatives NGOs Mumbai First and Make A Difference (MAD) Foundation along with railway authorities in attendance.
“We are proud that Mumbaikars are taking the responsibility of cleanliness instead of blaming the railways and government bodies. Suburbs are more populated now, and hence, we chose Bandra,” said Prabhu.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis too spoke about the project. “We need to keep railway stations clean. This is a great initiative as citizens are cleaning, painting and revamping station premises,” he said.
But both leaders seemed to forget or ignore the situation on the east side of the posh suburb, which is in a pathetic state.
And it’s same old story — encroached by slum dwellers and hawkers and made a menace of a place by unruly autorickshaw drivers. Railway officials agreed that there has not been much progress in retaining their land adjoining the tracks, Western Express Highway and the skywalk.
Sources said railway authorities are in constant talks to remove the slum dwellers whose structures are as high as four to six storeys. “But until there is political will, it is difficult to clear this,” said an official.
The railways also hasn’t got any bidder for the Rs 4,500 crore land, which it intends to commercially exploit, despite it being in a prime location. All this was being done as part of the railways’ and NGOs’ plan of beautifying 36 stations across Mumbai. The 25,000 volunteers will beautify stations between Masjid and Thane on Central Railway and Churchgate and Dahisar on WR till October 8.
On the cards
Railways is looking at investing R10,000 crore along with the Maharashtra government as part of their joint venture. They will be creating new rail lines, besides other development, in Konkan, Marathwada and Vidarbha.