A massive structure called an auto rickshaw deck has been standing right in the middle of Andheri railway station. After the initial purpose of making it a pick up point for auto rickshaws failed, the Western Railway (WR) authorities were looking at other options, such as setting up mini take away restaurants and stalls on this auto rickshaw deck.
However, now, they realised that the structure is weak and needs strengthening for sustenance. “We are planning to set up commercial outlets on this auto deck. Currently, the strengthening work is underway,” said GVL Satyakumar, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), WR.
As per the plan, WR has been looking at allowing shops and take away joints to commercially utilise this space. However, for it, they need to strengthen the auto rickshaw deck. The work is being carried out by Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, according to WR officials. The auto rickshaw deck was built in 2014 at a cost of around Rs 10 crore and has a multi-purpose stall next to the wide foot over bridge (FOB).
The 100-metre-long auto rickshaw deck at Andheri (East) has been built between the north and middle FOBs. On one side of the FOB, there is a slope where hawkers sell their wares and people use it to walk to the parking lot and Metro station. On the other side, there is a huge deck lying unused and is open to the sky.
It is connected to the north FOB and continues down a ramp to MV Road below. Its purpose was to allow auto rickshaws from Andheri (East) to enter from one end, pick up passengers waiting on the deck, and then leave the station premises. The auto rickshaws are supposed to climb up from Swami Nityanand road, pick up commuters, cross the north FOB and go down the ramp to return to the road on the eastern side of the station.
However, the structure has been lying unused because the MV Road end is too narrow for auto rickshaws to exit and is flanked by shops, which need to be cleared for the road to be widened. Now, the approach road of this deck has grass and moss grown all over and is not maintained. Railway passenger associations have come down heavily on the WR authorities for their short sightedness.
“This shows their total lack of vision and planning, as they have wasted public money. Such a large space is going waste. We have been asking them to commercially utilise this space or set up a dormitory for people, as it's close to the airport as well. But the WR authorities are simply doing nothing,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.