It’s railway commuters vs Bandra slumdwellers.
The reason: The state’s decision to use a plot of land at Bandra (East) to rehabilitate slumdwellers displaced by a fire at Behrampada on June 18.
The 45,371 sq mtr of land belongs to the Western Railway (WR) and its use is meant to generate funds for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) and other state railway projects.
Hindustan Times was the first to report the government’s decision on June 25.
“The state will have to take a call on whom they want to side with either railway commuters or slumdwellers,” a senior WR official said.
WR smells a conspiracy as only last year the state had acknowledged that the land belonged to WR and increased the Floor Space Index (FSI) of the plot from two to four.
FSI determines the height of a building on a particular plot of land. Higher the FSI, taller the building can be.
Additional FSI was granted to WR on the condition that the railways shall use two-third proceeds from it for Rs 5,300-crore MUTP-2 and the rest for railway projects in Maharashtra only.
Then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had cleared the deal after then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh met him in New Delhi in August.
The WR had planned to lease out the plot for 80 years for commercial use. With an FSI of four, the railways were expecting to generate around Rs 2,000 to 2,500 crore for the MUTP project from the plot.
But now, the state’s decision to resettle Behrampada dwellers could mean that the land may not be available for future use, affecting the entire railway upgrade project.
Suburban Collector Vishwas Patil said: “We have requested the railways to give us that land to temporarily resettle the slumdwellers at Behrampada. The railways are a national undertaking and we will not proceed on our own till we get their permission.”