Central Railway (CR) officials have been directed to unseal holes and drains along the boundary wall of the Sion section in order to prevent flooding in a housing society located adjacent to railway land.
The Sion section is known as one of the most sensitive flooding spots during the monsoon. CR authorities had sealed 'illegal' holes and drains along the wall to stop water from being releasing onto the railway tracks as part of their monsoon preparations this year.
“There is no other alternative for passage of storm water from the New Sion Co-operative Housing Society and closure of holes in the adjacent railway boundary wall could lead to severe water logging,” read the letter written by assistant engineer of BMC F/North ward to the CR on June 14.
“On June 13 Rahul Shewale visited the site along with BMC staff, railway officials and local residents. He instructed that the railways should open these drain holes and not block / close them until BMC's project at the downstream side for augmentation of the SWD network and construction of a mini pumping station is completed, so as to avoid flooding inside the housing premises,” further read the letter. Meanwhile, BMC officials were told to provide additional de-watering pumps to reduce water receding time. Accordingly, the civic body will provide two additional de-watering pumps of 240 cum/per hour each near Mukhyadhyapak Bhavan.
“We have requested the railways to take necessary action to avoid flooding. Since the de-watering pumps installed are of high capacity, the flow increases so we have sensitised the residents and they have agreed to co-operate,” Gajanan Bellale, assistant commissioner of F/North said while confirming the development.
However, passenger bodies of CR opposed the direction given by Shewale. “It's a totally wrong move which will affect lakhs of local commuters. Instead of directing the railways to allow to water from the society onto the tracks, the MP needs to direct the BMC to tackle the problem before the monsoon,” Subhash Gupta, chairman of Kurla Railway Pravsi Sangh said. Gupta also raised questions on the monsoon preparations of the BMC.
However, the media advisor of Shewale justified his move. “The water accumulated in the society would drain onto the tracks every year. But this year, after the holes were plugged by the railways, there was a huge amount of water collected in the society after just a little rain. The residents of the society have to face a lot of problems and there is also a risk of spreading diseases due to the accumulated water,” he said,” adding that the intention was to resolve the problem by coordinating with the BMC and railways, and senior officers from both agencies had come for the visit.
He added that there is also a risk of a wall collapse due to pressure of the accumulated water, in case of heavy rains.
Meanwhile, CR's chief public relations officer, Shivaji Sutar said releasing water onto railway land instead of a culvert is not advisable. “In this particular case, openings in the railway boundary wall were plugged by authorities to prevent flooding of tracks. We have advised all parties concerned, not to damage railway boundary walls and to channalise drain water through proper existing outlets, Sutar said.