This is Chembur station during peak evening hours — pavements encroached by hawkers, haphazardly parked vehicles, blocked roads, crawling traffic, pedestrians struggling to make their way through congested roads and continuous honking and noise.
Ramdas Shinde, a Subhash Nagar resident, who has been living in Chembur for more than two decades, has the perfect word to describe the scene outside the station — chaotic.
Chembur is one of the most crowded railway stations on the harbour line in the eastern suburbs.
Though several big chemical, petroleum and other plants are situated in Chembur, it is mainly a residential area. Several people working at these plants travel via Chembur station.
Subhash Nagar, Sahakar Nagar, Shell Colony, Postal Colony, Chedda Nagar and several other big colonies are also located in Chembur.
In addition to this, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have also set up new rehabilitation colonies in the area.
With the opening of Tilak Nagar station a couple of decades ago, the pressure on Chembur railway station
was slightly reduced. But because of rapid commercialisation, the roads outside the station have always remained congested.
Chembur station lacks proper passenger infrastructure. The station has two FOBs and a skywalk on the west side, but nothing for the crowd in the east.
A single entry and exit point encroached by hawkers makes the situation worse.
In the east, NM Acharya Road or station road, which is parallel to the railway line, remains completely clogged at all times. Haphazard parking, illegal hawkers and unruly autorickshaw drivers don’t leave much space for vehicles and pedestrians on the four-lane road.
“On weekends, holidays and the festive season, the situation outside the station gets worse. It takes 15 minutes to walk 100 metres. It is getting worse every day, but authorities are doing nothing,” said Sudhakar Kale, Chembur resident.
Commuters complain they have to struggle to walk through the vehicles because footpaths are occupied by hawkers. But even if they want to avoid the crowded area outside the station, they hardly have a choice.
“The station has only one exit. Even if we want to avoid the crowd and traffic outside the station, we have no choice because there is no other exit. Earlier, there was just one exit on the north side, but the railways sealed it to avoid trespassing,” said Shivram Lad, a resident of Chembur.
On the west, the road under the flyover and alongside the flyover gets congested along with PL Lokhande Marg. Narrow roads, haphazardly parked vehicles, hawkers, vegetable and fish markets, shops, autos and taxi stands leaves the roads leading to station congested. Heavy traffic flow at Amar Mahal junction adds to the problem.
Locals complain traffic problems in the area worsened after the Santacruz-Chembur link road was opened.
“Many motorists, who want to go towards Chedda Nagar, Govandi, Shivaji Nagar and Ghatkopar use this narrow road outside the station after exiting from SCLR. Many hawkers have stalls along the road. It become difficult for vehicles moving in the opposite direction to pass,” said a shopkeeper, who does not wish to be named, adding that even PL Lokhande Marg gets blocked because of this.
PROBLEMS AROUND CHEMBUR STATION
Unregulated parking outside the station is a big nuisance on both the east and the west side. The problem of unregulated parking is more severe on the east side, where the ‘No parking’ boards placed every 20-50m are swiftly ignored. Unregulated parking during peak hours means only two lanes of the four or six lanes on the road are open to traffic. It drastically reduces traffic speed and sometimes blocks the entire area.
Hawkers are another problem outside the station. They have encroached upon every inch of the footpaths on both the east and the west side of the station. During peak hours, they also put up stalls on roads and station premises, leaving hardly any space for people to walk on. As a result, commuters have no option but to walk on the road and obstruct traffic. During the festive season and weekends, the number of people goes up, worsening the situation.
Uneven Roads and footpaths
On East of the Chembur station, the roads are slightly better than West, but the condition of pavements is shameful. At certain locations, pavements are too narrow or do not exist — like on Shell Colony Road. Besides, the hawkers there are several other obstacles like poles, meter boxes and boards, among others. Dislocated and displaced paver blocks force people to walk on the roads instead of footpaths.
Limited entry and exit points
Though Chembur railway station has two exits, interconnected with the skywalks on the comparatively less crowded west side, it has just one exit on the crowded east side. It makes dispersal of commuters a serious issue on NG Acharya Road. The entrance always remains occupied by hawkers, leaving hardly any space for commuters to walk.
Bus stops and auto-taxi stands
The badly planned bus stops and auto-taxi stands also affect traffic flow at Chembur station. There are a couple of bus stops just opposite the station’s entrance on NG Acharya Road. Hence, when any bus halts at any of the stops, traffic behind it also comes to a standstill. Similarly, auto drivers pick up and drop off customers outside the station entrance even though this is not allowed, adversely affecting traffic flow. Auto and taxi stands near Amar Mahal junction on the west affect traffic during peak hours.
Pedestrian crossings block traffic
Pedestrian crossings at certain locations like outside the station on the east, Amar Mahal junction under the flyover and a few other locations, severely affect traffic flow during peak hours. Pedestrians attempt to cross the roads through moving traffic, increasing the risk of accidents, besides hindering the traffic flow.
Unruly autorickshaw drivers
Unruly auto drivers create chaos outside Chembur station. They stop their vehicles anywhere to pick up and drop off passengers, and take turns from anywhere. Sometimes, they form more than one queue at the stands. Traffic cops say despite repeated warnings, auto drivers continue to break the rules and it is not possible to take action against every auto driver because of their large number.
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