From a hub of textile mills until the early 1980s to a booming business hub with commercial high-rises, areas surrounding Parel and Elphinstone Road stations have undergone a tremendous transformation. The stations, however, remain the same, thanks to the lack of infrastructure development.
The two stations, in close proximity to Tata Memorial, KEM, Wadia and Gandhi hospital and the commercial buildings in Worli, Prabhadevi and Mahalaxmi, cater to approximately 1.5lakh-2lakh daily passengers each daily.
Witnessing a stampede-like situation on platform number 1 and 2 at and the narrow staircase at the CST-end of Parel has become common for the commuters.
The narrow footpath adjoining the Parel bridge only makes matters worse.
“It takes at least 20 minutes to cross the narrow footpath adjacent to the rail overbridge that connects to the Elphinstone station. The authorities need to widen the footpath. They can’t wait for a disaster to come up with a plan,” said Gauri Deshpande, Parel resident who works at Goregaon.
Datta Naik, a 58-year-old Elphinstone resident who travels to Bhandup daily, said, “Getting on to the staircase at Parel station is the biggest challenge. It takes me 10-15minutes simply to cross this 50-m stretch during peak hours.”
Another concern is the multiple bylanes that lead and add to the congestion on the station roads. During peak hours, vehicles can be seen coming from all directions and flouting all traffic norms.
“Vehicles coming from the lane adjacent to Shirodkar market head towards the station road. The authorities should make it a one-way lane to reduce congestion,” said Shweta Purandare, a Sewri resident, who waits for at least 15-20 minutes at the Parel junction during peak hours.
Moreover, hawkers have occupied both sides of the road, leaving pedestrians with very little space. Both the roads from Parel junction to Parel and Elphinstone Road stations are occupied by hawkers. The civic body doesn’t take any action against them.
Some activists want a skywalk to be built from the office of F-south ward of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to the station, but a few have objected to the plan.
“Skywalk may not be a solution. The idea hasn’t worked in other areas. Many people find it difficult climb the skywalk, so they avoid it. The civic body should relocate licensed vendors to the nearby market and take strict action against illegal hawkers,” said Bhaskar Prabhu, a social activist.
Commuters feel providing public transport connectively could be of great help.
“The stations lack efficient bus transport facility. The nearest bus stop for Parel is F-South ward office, while on the Elphinstone side it is near Swami Samarth temple. Both these stops should be relocated near the station,” said Rohan Desai, a Sewri resident who travels to Thane daily.
STATION AREA: BUSY AND BUZZY
Parel was one of the original seven islands of Mumbai. In the 1770s, William Hornby, then governor of Bombay, shifted his official residence to Parel. Since then, the area is one of the poshest in the city. Parel railway station was opened in 1877, with platform number 3 and 4 reserved for employees of the Parel railway workshop, and platform number 1 and 2 for general public. Elphinstone Road station was opened in 1867 and is named after Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay from 1853 to 1860
Where pedestrians are welcomed by encroachments and illegal parking on footpaths
Each of these stations caters to around 1.5 lakh to 2lakh passengers daily, including the officegoers to the commercial hub, patients visiting nearby hospitals such as Tata Memorial, KEM and Wadia and students. A large number of officegoers walk from the two stations to their offices. However, walking to and from the stations is a nightmare because of hawkers and two-wheelers. According to commuters, the authorities such as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, traffic and city police are to blame for illegal parking and presence of hawkers on the footpaths adjacent to the Parel ROB and station road, FOB and staircase towards the CST-end of Parel. The demand to increase the width of the FOB has been pending for long.
Watch out, there’s traffic from all directions
Both Parel and Elphinstone Road have many narrow lanes intersecting the main station road. The vehicular traffic from these lanes adds to the congestion on the main road, resulting in chaos and traffic snarls. Also, vehicles coming from roads adjacent to the Parel-Bridge in Elphinstone (West) contribute to the vehicular traffic on Senapati Bapat Marg.
When bikes, hawkers come in your way
Even as the traffic movement is not managed well, illegal hawkers only add to the chaos. Some residents have objected to the plan of building a skywalk and demanded relocation of authorised vendors instead. They feel the civic authorities fail to take stringent action against illegal hawkers. The approach roads to Parel and Elphinstone are occupied, which obstruct the pedestrian movement
No transport for public
The bus stops are away from the stations. So people have to either walk or take the share-a-taxi service to reach their offices. The bus stop nearest Parel station is at F-south Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ward office, while in Elphinstone it is opposite the Swami Samarth Mandir. So commuters have to cross the Senapati Bapat Marg to reach Elphinstone. There are no signages to inform commuters about bus stops.
The nuisance in black-and-yellow
Taxi and private vehicles, especially bikers, are major contributors to the traffic on both sides of Parel and Elphinstone station area. Bikers and taxi drivers are often seen breaking the rules on the narrow Parel bridge. Commuters want traffic policemen to be deployed on the bridge, so the offenders can be penalised.
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