A handful of fish vendors are holding up a flagship project of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), to lay two additional railway lines between Kurla and Thane stations.
Listed under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project, it is one of the largest and oldest ongoing projects on Mumbai’s suburban railways.
The Rs 166 crore Kurla-Thane additional rail corridor has come to a grinding halt after fish vendors living in the line’s path, who had been evicted, returned and settled there, delaying the project. This is likely to push its deadline ahead by a few more months.
Last week, a meeting was held between the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (which is coordinating the project), the BMC and the MMRDA to sort out the issue.
“The fish vendors will now be shifted to an alternate place belonging to the Central Railway and the project will move ahead,” a senior official said.
Flagship programmes are regularly reviewed by the Delivery Monitoring Unit set up in the PMO to monitor “flagship programmes and iconic projects.”
This unit ensures trouble-shooting through periodic reviews, informs the prime minister about performance every quarter, and evaluates impact. Vikhroli has been a problem area, with a local approaching the Bombay High Court to challenge the move by Central Railway (CR) to take over a road near the railway station.
CR acquired the road in 1995, to lay the fifth and sixth tracks. According to the petitioner, although there is another road adjacent to this road, it is clogged with encroachment, and the BMC has not taken any steps to clear the unauthorised structures.
If the railways shut off the road in this manner, it will lead to chaos and traffic blockage, closing off access to the station even to emergency vehicles. The authorities should immediately remove the encroachments, the petitioner had urged.
Work on the 13-year-old project, comprising two separate 17-km lines between Kurla and Thane, has been held up in this manner on several occasions for various reasons, most of them related to encroachment. Work is on in full swing in other areas – tracks have even been laid in sections where the land is clear.
The Kurla-Thane additional lines project is part of the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project. This project is divided into two phases – phase I: Kurla-Bhandup (10 km) approved in 1995-96 at a cost estimate of Rs 102.90 crore, and phase II: Bhandup-Thane (7 km) approved in 1997-98 at a cost estimate of Rs. 56.79 crore.