Mumbai: Ghats crumble, tracks washed out after rains lash city

Heavy rains crippled normal life for over 24 hours in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The Bhor and Thul ghats on Central Railway (CR) bore the heaviest brunt. The Titwala-Igatpuri and Ambernath-Lonavala sections were the worst affected. It all began at 10.15 pm on July 21, when Kasara received 45 mm rainfall in one hour, by which time the area had already received 207 mm of rainfall.

The sections beyond Ambernath, Badlapur, Vangani, Karjat, Khopoli, Chouk were affected severely. Tracks washed out near the Vangani, Umbermali and Khadavali-Vashind sections. By 12.30 am Thursday, Kasara had received 257 mm rainfall, resulting in severe water-logging, submerging even the railway tracks.

A senior CR official said the intensity of rainfall could be gauged from the fact that Kasara received 136 mm rainfall in four hours and Karjat received 86.8 mm in just one hour between 1 am and 2 am on Thursday. The tracks at Umbermali were washed out and the Kalu River crossed its danger mark. “Running trains beyond Titwala was therefore unsafe. Submerged tracks between Vangani and Badlapur also made the assessment of damage difficult,” the official said. The Ambernath-Badlapur section was restored in a record time of 12 hours and suburban services were extended from Ambernath to Badlapur at 10.35 am on Thursday. At Umbermali, the tracks were made safe at 5.30 am for Down line and 7.15 am for Up line; tracks at Chouk were given safe signals at 11.11am.

On the ghat section, boulders collapsed, mud and slush began sliding on rail lines, trees and signal poles fell and OHE masts crumbled. On many stretches, the soil and ballasts supporting the rail tracks got washed out, leaving rails dangling.

At least 15-20 locations on the Karjat ghat section and five to seven locations on the Kasara ghat section were severely damaged. Over 900 labourers with 75 supervisors and 38 officers worked through the night to restore train traffic. Twenty-seven ballast hoppers and 12 boulder wagons were ordered from Bhusaval, a while ballast train with 30 labourers reached Goti station. Two boulder specials, four ballast rakes, two poclains and four JCBs were mobilised to work on highway blockages.

A CR official said rainwater was flowing like a river. “It was very difficult terrain and our men neither knew the extent of damage nor what lay ahead. Amidst this we had to take JCB machines through poor road connectivity,” he said. In the middle of this, four trains were rolled to safety. Sources who were at the sites said the access from the road was a challenge as boulders had collapsed between the hills. Additionally, continuous rainfall made it difficult to walk on the submerged tracks.

Chief PRO, CR, Shivaji Sutar said disruptions at 21 locations were reported due to water-logging, washout of embankments, boulders and landslides in ghats, with rivers flowing over danger level.

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