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Even as Mumbai residents oppose elevated Metro corridor, authorities say it’s impossible to go underground

Officials say residents’ demand against an elevated corridor cannot be met as cost would skyrocket, along with problems of road blocks and slower redevelopment of buildings

mumbai Updated: Sep 11, 2017 00:58 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Metro,Mumbai Metro,DN Nagar
A public meeting at Vile Parle on Thursday.(HT PHOTO)

Residents from the western suburbs are opposing the proposed Metro 2B line between DN Nagar and Mankhurd, claiming the elevated line will pose a threat to the environment, livelihood of people in the vicinity and cause congestion on the arterial SV Road.

Authorities said it would be impossible to cede to the demand of an underground corridor for various reasons, including its cost which would be four times more.

More than 100 people took part in a meeting at Vile Parle on Sunday to spread awareness about the issues and to sketch out a 5-point plan to get the city talking about #MetroGoUnderground.

Residents and experts, who have been opposing the metro line 2B, have been demanding it to be made underground, like one planned between Colaba and Seepz.

According to them , the line has seamless connectivity, scope for future expansion and does not disturb the existing infrastructure.

Architect Zafar Jhaveri said, “Many skywalks will have to be dismantled till Badnra Talao. Every metro station between on S V road will be 12,000-15,000 sq m big which will affect about 22 buildings in its vicinity.”

Activist Hansel D’souza, who is on the steering committee, said, “SV road is the only arterial road connecting the western suburbs to the city. As future passengers of the metro, we demand that the state government listen to us.”

According to Jhaveri, apart from blocking light and air ventilation at these locations, an elevated metro line will reduce 20-25% of the road width.

NGOs like Save Aarey, local schools, churches and members of the Bohra community pledged to support the campaign against the elevated metro corridor through Bandra. Nadeem Patel, a resident of Kamal apartment, Bandra (W), told HT, “Half of our building is in the path of metro line 2B. We have been living here since 45 years.”

Thousands of residents and schoolchildren had taken to streets on August 11 to protest the elevated metro.

Ashoke Pandit of Save Open Spaces said an even bigger march will be planned in South Mumbai next week.

Other steps to be taken by the committee members are filing a writ petition in the high court this week, a massive signature campaign and an appeal to the Prime Minister. A

Anandini Thakoor, trustee of H/W Federation, said, “Every household on S V road is sending a letter of appeal to PM Modi. He will have to listen to us.”

‘Cost of underground Metro line would be 4 times more’

Though residents from the western suburbs have been opposing the elevated Metro corridor between DN Nagar and Mankhurd, authorities said it would be impossible to cede to the demand of an underground corridor for various reasons, including its cost which would be four times more.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials — the nodal agency for the project — said tenders for the 2B line have been floated and that it is quite impossible to make any changes now.

A senior official said, “It is difficult to redevelop buildings on top of the tunnel as it needs more clearances. The tunneling takes a long time and year-long construction works create road blocks.”

However, experts said other factors like the environment, livelihood of people in the vicinity are far more important. Architect PK Das told HT, “Even if the construction cost is less, other costs are far higher when it comes to elevated corridors.”

Another expert, Zafar Jhaveri, suggested using the underground space to set up retail and shops for generating revenue.

According to experts, there are too many people in the western suburbs and less space, which cannot accommodate an elevated metro. “About 2 lakh commuters will board and alight at each metro station on SV road every day,” said architects.

Even as citizens have announced to take to streets again next week, the MMRDA will go ahead with the commissioning of the corridor in phases. Work will also start soon, said officials.

Moreover, residents in the western suburbs feel they are being discriminated “at an infrastructural cost.” If South Mumbai can have an underground metro line, why can’t we? We want equality in services, they ask.

South Mumbai residents have complained about the incessant construction noises since the work started on Colaba-Seepz corridor. The Bombay High Court also disallowed tunneling work at night, further slowing down the process.

MLA Ameet Satam, who has been following the issue at the state-level, said, “The Seepz-Bandra-Colaba line passes through suburbs and is underground. There is no issue of discrimination. The government will do what is best for its citizens.”

Godfrey Pimenta, an activist city, however, agreed that structures near the metro tunnels cannot be redeveloped later on. “The authority planned an underground one in South Mumbai because there are many heritage and dilapidated structures there. Problems also arise during construction of underground metro and although it would avoid congestion of roads, it is too risky to go underground in the suburbs where the population is dense,” he said.

First Published: Sep 11, 2017 00:54 IST