Mumbai: Commuters are not to be blamed if they get the feeling that their trains are cutting through a garbage dump between Wadala and GTB Nagar stations on the harbour line of Central Railway (CR). This is because nearly 100 trucks of garbage are thrown every month by slum dwellers on these railway tracks. This is not only affecting the maintenance work of the tracks but also defacing the track itself.
Thousands of slum dwellers who live close to the railway tracks on this stretch are blaming the BMC for not lifting garbage from their shanty colonies because of which they are “forced” to throw garbage onto the tracks. Civic officials, however, said that access to these slums is very difficult.
A regular commuter, Laxmi Sankaran said, “The slum dwellers have no justification. This not only leads to the spread of mosquitos and infestation by rats. It also results in heavy flooding during the monsoon.” Other commuters said that if civic authorities and the railways are doing their job then the situation shouldn’t be as bad as it seems.
Other passengers blamed it squarely on illegal encroachments. The presence of slums very close to the tracks is a serious violation of railway safety rules, they said. Frequent Vashi commuter Sukesh Jain said, “People sit on the tracks and get up only when a train is nearing. The railways talk about Swachhta Abhiyaan but they should first concentrate on removing garbage and silt dumped here, which leads to foul smell assaulting all senses.” Kanchan Iyer from Sanpada, who works with a Fort- based private firm, said, “The condition of tracks is extremely bad. Sometimes, slum dwellers throw garbage inside the trains, too.”
A CR official said on condition of anonymity that it poses a two-fold problem – it defaces the tracks and demotivates employees, who are reluctant to take work at such locations, further aggravating the deterioration of tracks. He claimed that this year 800 truckloads of filth were lifted between CSMT and Mankhurd.
Thousands of slum-dwellers live on stretch between Wadala and GTB Nagar stations
Another official said that the process of clearing illegal encroachments is underway. “We are trying our best. Recently, we removed over 50 illegal encroachments near Wadala Road station and notices have been served to 24 others.” Commuters said this is a joke, considering that there are thousands of slum-dwellers on this stretch.
Slum dwellers, meanwhile, blamed politicians for the problem. “During elections, they make tall promises for toilets and garbage removal but forget once the elections are over,” said Mohammad Salem, who has been residing in a slum near the Raoli Junction for more than two decades. “We don’t want to throw garbage on the tracks as it comes back to our houses. However, we are forced to do so as we have no other option,” said Anisha Begum, 35, another resident of slums located at Raoli Junction.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of F-North ward, Gajanan Bellale said they provide dustbins in slums but the problem persists. “We will sensitise slum dwellers and ensure that they throw the garbage in dustbins and not on tracks.”
(With inputs from Shefali Parab)
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