Ban all plastic bags.
This is what the railways have told the municipal corporation.
At a joint inspection held last week by Central Railway (CR), Western Railway (WR) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, the railway officials demanded a ban on plastic bags because they choke small drains along the tracks.
“We have asked the BMC to ban plastic bags,” said M.C. Chauhan, divisional railway manager, CR.
Every monsoon, at least 69 lakh commuters on Central and Western Railway lines suffer due to overflowing drains and flooding on tracks. Trains are forced to slow down or even stop if it rains heavily because there is limited scope for water to flow out if plastic bags choke drains.
The BMC has banned plastic bags thinner than 50 microns after the 2005 deluge but the railways want all plastic bags to be banned. The BMC has not been very effective in implementing the existing ban.
On Tuesday, when Mumbai received its first heavy showers, the railways had to deploy men to remove plastic from drains. “We have widened the nullahs and raised their height but plastic covers continue to choke them,” said a CR official.
Low-lying spots such as Vikhroli, Parel, Masjid Bunder, Ghatkopar and Wadala on the central line and Charni Road, Grant Road, Lower Parel, Bandra, and Matunga on the western line usually suffer because of this. “Plastic bags escalate problems when it rains heavily because they choke drains,” said G. Pillai, divisional railway manager, WR.
The railways complain that often water from drains along the roads flows to the tracks, which are at a lower level.
The railways have placed at least 1,000 men on round-the-clock duty to clean drains. They have also installed 100 pumps to drain water from tracks.
The BMC recently said those caught throwing plastic and garbage in drains will be fined. Within a week, it has penalised 227 offenders and collected a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh.