Save landmark, change Metro route: Kalyan residents
Even before the work for Metro 5 Thane- Bhiwandi- Kalyan project begins in Kalyan, residents and activists are demanding a change in route.
Ever since residents have got to know that the iconic Prabhakar Oak Tower and statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj would have to be shifted from Shivaji Chowk in Kalyan (West) to make way for Metro rail, they have been voicing their objections.
Alert Citizen Forum in Kalyan has written to Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) asking them to reroute Metro 5 line away from the historic oak tower and statue.
In a letter to the forum in November, MMRDA states that the route has been planned based on the state government’s directions in April 2018.
“We cannot let the authorities touch the city’s landmark. The tower at Shivaji Chowk has its own identity and it cannot be moved to any other place. We have been opposing it and have asked the authorities to reroute the Metro line via Khadakpada,” said Sreeniwas Ghanekar, founder of the forum.
The members have been following up with MMRDA, the planning authority for the project, about the Metro project.
The Oak tower, built in 1954, has clocks on three sides. The Shivaji Maharaj statue beside the tower is also old.
“The Metro route was finalised earlier and it is not possible to make any changes. Whenever required, MMRDA and KDMC will decide on shifting the tower and the statue that falls on the way. Since several representatives have approached the authority to reroute it, work has slowed down and the decision on final alignment is pending,” said an officer from MMRDA.
The forum members said the proposed Metro line will cross Durgadi Chowk- Sahajanand chowk- Shivaji Chowk till APMC market in Kalyan (West). The plan shows 24-metre-wide roads in its plan. However, members said roads on the stretch are 18 to 20 metres wide only and are congested.
“If the road itself is narrow and a Metro is built over it, how will decrease the congestion? The congestion will increase over a period of time,” said Ghanekar.
The forum has also pointed that the authorities have not come up with any rehabilitation plan for the residents living and doing their business along the stretch. The busy Shivaji Chowk is a commercial hub with hundreds of shops on all roads that merge on the chowk. Thousands of residents live along the stretch in old buildings.
The Metro line will help one cover the distance from APMC market in Kalyan to Kapurbawdi in Thane in 50 minutes and in 25 minutes from Bhiwandi to Kapurbawdi, Thane.
The work of the first phase of the project from Thane to Bhiwandi has begun after a contractor was appointed in September 2019. However, the work from Bhiwandi to Kalyan is yet to start.
Since the plan of the Metro route was chalked out, there has been a continuous demand to reroute the line from Durgadi to Adharwadi chowk and from Khadakapada to Birla College.
In October 2018, the state government asked MMRDA to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for rerouting the Metro line as there were several suggestions from residents and activists.
The proposed route for Metro line 5 covers Agra road in Kalyan (West), the busy Durgadi Chowk, Shivaji Chowk and APMC market. However, it does not reach Khadakpada- Pournima Chowk-Murbad Road in Kalyan (West).
“Many people from Khadakpada and Murbad road who travel to Thane and Bhiwandi won’t benefit from the Metro. These roads are wider compared to Shivaji Chowk. The authorities should have planned Metro line from these areas,” said Shankar Patil, 36, who lives in Pournima Chowk in Kalyan (West) and travels to Thane by road daily.
The Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro line aims to ease connectivity between the two cities.