In a space-starved city where several infrastructure projects are stuck because of lack of land, 3.47 hectares of railway land has been encroached upon by slums in Bandra (East) — the Behrampada structure that collapsed on Thursday was one such encroachment.
On Thursday, six children were killed and five people were critically injured when the 5-storey illegal structure came crashing down in Behrampada.Of the 3.47 hectares, Behrampada accounts for 0.47 hectares of encorachments, Kherwadi, 1.60 hectares and Garibnagar, 1.40 hectares.
The Western Railway (WR), which owns this land, said it has made several attempts to clear it of encroachments, but the structures are always reconstructed or demolition drives are stopped by political interference or lack of state support. Sources said in August this year, WR had written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Reliance Energy to cut off power and water supply to the slums, to force them out. “The BMC was to issue notices to slum-dwellers to vacate the space before we conduct a joint drive. So far, we have not received any intimation from the municipal corporation,” said Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relation officer (CPRO) WR.
On disconnecting power supply, a Reliance Infrastructure spokesperson said they had written to the railways, but did not receive a reply.
“We received a communication dated August 4, 2016 from the Western Railway on August 29, 2016 regarding disconnection of supply to hutments in Garib Nagar area near Railway lines. We replied immediately, saying as a service provider, we are obliged to provide connection to whosoever applies with the prescribed documents,” said a spokesperson.
The building that collapsed in Berhampada is no where near Garib Nagar, the spokesperson said, adding they had not received any letter from either the MCGM or the Railways about disconnecting power in that area.