Central Railway’s Trans Harbour Line has been serving as the lifeline of Navi Mumbai for several years, but the network has also proved to be a death trap for many. Tuesday morning’s death on the tracks at Turbhe Naka came as a grim reminder of the fact that the people are forced to cross the tracks, risking their lives, in the absence of a foot over bridge for which demand has been pending for long. Railways may have sanctioned multri-crore stations at Bonkode and Dighe, but the basic civic amenity like the foot over bridge at Turbhe still remains a dream.
Former MP Sanjeev Naik, who had taken up the Trans Harbour Line issues with the Centre, also promised the bridge with no action whatsoever during his five-year tenure. Now, Sena MP Rajan Vichare also included this issue among series of promises. Angered by the inaction and the fatal accident, local residents resorted to an impromptu ‘Rail Roko’ on Tuesday to focus attention on their demand for a foot over bridge. Hopefully, CIDCO, which finances the rail projects, and the Central Railway that executes will take steps to construct the bridge to life over the death crossing.
Adivashi readers would recall the relentless reporting about ever thriving land mafia. CIDCO, on its part, has now decided to strengthen its anti-encroachment drive. Its Chief Controller of Unauthorised Constructions (CCUC) will now ensure that the officials register an FIR with the respective local police stations before taking action. This, CIDCO hopes, will help the planning body take proper action against encroachers. CIDCO says it will not swing into action across the city, including the Navi Mumbai International Airport Notified Area where rampant unauthorised constructions have been noticed.
Prompted by the MNS agitation, BJP and Shiv Sena had made an electoral promise of a Toll-Mukt Maharashtra – to keep the State free of toll collections. Then Congress MLA Vivek Patil even quit the party to join the lotus wave making an issue out of the Kharghar toll plaza on the expanded Sion-Panvel Highway. PWD invested Rs 1,220 crores on the highway expansion to smoothen the traffic and handed over the project to Sion-Panvel Tollways Pvt Ltd. But motorists in general opposed the new toll as it falls within less than 15 km of the existing Vashi toll plaza. Under the guidelines issued by the previous State government, the distance between two toll plazas is ought to be 50 km.
Local media reports suggest that the move to activate the Kharghar toll plaza is on at Mantralaya and the SPTL staff has been conducting dry runs. MNS recently staged a dharna at the toll plaza which BJP dismissed as a mere stunt. “We are aware of our promise,” said a BJP leader. Local residents now ask as to why the toll sword still hangs over their heads if the ruling party remembers its poll promise.
Talking of promises, CIDCO has dismissed reports of delay in Nerul-Uran suburban rail link which is slated to provide connectivity to upcoming townships at Ulwe and Dronagiri, apart from the propose airport affected areas. CIDCO says adequate funds are being arranged for the project and its officials had meetings with the Central Railway teams to ensure that the work is on the right track. The rail link is being built on a cost sharing basis of 67:33 by CIDCO and CR respectively. Rajesh Prajapati, Managing Director of Prajapati Constructions, says the people planning to buy homes at Dronagiri and developers will heave a sigh of relief. Many people are looking to buy homes in this area as the existing nodes of Navi Mumbai have become unaffordable. The fact that the number of registrations has fallen by about 20% in the city as compared to the last year amply proves this.
Shiv Sena has found a new way to protest against the garbage problem in the city. Its volunteers took garbage bins to the Ward Office at Airoli and dumped them on the officer’s table as if to give him the first hand experience! Swachh Navi Mumbai? Well, that is still a far cry in this city of the 21st century.
B N Kumar
This is the 96th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted on: email@example.com
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