A decade ago, Kurla station was much less crowded than it is now. With Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) becoming a corporate hub, office goers from the Central suburbs make a beeline to this station to get to work, making it one of the busiest stations in the city.
Experts and town planners said Kurla station and its vicinity is getting busier and more crowded but does not have the requisite infrastructure, making the area chaotic.
According to transport expert Jitendra Gupta, the planning is already in place but implementation is a big problem. He said that removal of encroachments, tackling the hawking menace, coordination between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the railways, better traffic coordination, more thrust on public transport as well as infrastructure will ease the commuter movement considerably.
“The unauthorised structures need to be removed as they impede both vehicular as well as commuter traffic,” said Gupta, adding, “There are several unauthorised commercial establishments around Kurla depot as well several buildings near the Jadhav market that needs to be removed.”
Razing these buildings will make a lot of difference as it will facilitate the smooth movement of mini buses, which have refused to ply till adequate space is allotted to them, he said.
“The mini buses need a bus chowky at New Mill Road for operating their services, which the BMC has still not been able to provide,” said Gupta. Mini buses will also leave people from BKC to New Mill Road, which is walking distance from the railway station.
Gupta added that the Development Plan (DP) has made provisions for this, but it is only on paper.
The other major problem the area faces is that of hawkers. Local Shiv Sena legislator Mangesh Kudalkar said hawkers have encroached most of the footpaths. “Commuters have no place to walk outside the station owing to these hawkers. They should be removed from the vicinity of the stations so that people can walk,” he said.
Kudalkar said he has been lobbying for expediting the slum rehabilitation projects around the station. “A lot of area will be freed if the slums are shifted. The roads can be widened, especially in the east side,” he said.
In the past few years, Phoenix Marketcity Mall has attracted a number of shoppers and movie goers. However, with limited infrastructure, the traffic problems have only increased.
“The traffic at the junction of LBS Road and BKC Road is chaotic. At times, people have to spend more than half-an-hour at this junction as the traffic comes to a standstill,” said Gaurang Damani, social activist.
According to Damani, it is time that Kurla gets the importance it deserves. “There should be special trains that originate as well as terminate in Kurla. We are seeing the population moving northwards, and with BKC and LBS Road getting importance, the area needs special attention,” he said.
EXPERT SOLUTIONS TO DECONGEST KURLA STATION AREA
Hawkers are a huge menace and occupy the overhead bridges as well as the footpaths, impeding both vehicular as well as commuter traffic.
What experts suggest: There needs to be greater coordination between the BMC and railways to tackle this menace. If both agencies undertake a joint drive, many of the problems can be solved. In addition, there should be regular patrolling and raids to ensure that hawkers do not sell their wares on the over bridges.
Autorickshaws have a field day here and they charge passengers according to their whims. There are constant fights and so there is a lot of chaos resulting in problems for commuters and leading to traffic snarls.
What experts suggest: The autorickshaw stand at the station road needs to be upgraded. The RTO and traffic police need to regulate the autorickshaws. They should utilise these spots to start share-an-auto schemes. Auto drivers, who break rules, should be penalised and the fares should be regulated.
Finish subway projects
The half-constructed subways in the area are a classic example of the lack of coordination between the BMC and the railway authorities.
What experts suggest: The BMC has passed a proposal to complete the city’s longest pedestrian subway that will connect the eastern and western parts of Kurla. The work on this subway began in 2011, but it is yet to be complete. The BMC needs to coordinate with the railways to ensure the subway is readied as soon as possible.
Unauthorised structures near the station have been responsible for hindering infrastructure development in the area.
What experts suggest: The BMC needs to crack down on these illegal structures in both east and west side of Kurla. The unauthorised structures opposite the main bus stand need to be removed as they affect the movement of these buses, adding to traffic problems in the already-congested area. On the east side, illegal structures have made it difficult for infrastructure to develop.
Raze crumbling structures
There are several dilapidated structures near Jadhav chawl, which act as a major hindrance to the traffic movement. Mini buses cannot operate owing to these structures.
What experts suggest: The BMC should demolish various structures such as David Chawl that will help facilitate traffic movement. There are many such structures near Jadhav Chawl, which despite losing court cases still stand as the authorities are not razing them. Removing such structures from Mill Road will facilitate the smooth movement of vehicular traffic.
Owing to traffic congestion, the frequency of buses has reduced considerably.
What experts suggest: The BEST’s ambitious plan to start mini buses should be executed. The BMC should provide a spot to BEST for a chowky. These buses can originate and terminate at Bharat Cineplex Chowk, which is walking distance from the railway station. This will make commuting for convenient.
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