Most high-profile leaders refuse to take up local  train issues
Most high-profile leaders refuse to take up local train issues

Take the plea that railway problems are managed by the Central govt and hence they can only help in the matter

Mumbai : Political parties have omitted suburban train reforms in their election manifesto and that’s despite 10 deaths each day on the city’s train system. And while party manifestoes do mention building trauma centres and setting up air ambulances, they largely focus on building memorials for leaders and other ambitious projects including a high-speed corridor connecting different cities.

When questioned as to why party manifestoes do not have any mention of the problems faced by seven million commuters each day on the suburban railway network, the onus is put on the Central government. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in its manifesto emphasised on a monorail in Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nashik along with another high speed corridor to connect Mumbai to Pune, but forgot to mention the improvement of the crucial Harbour line, which connects Mumbai to Navi Mumbai.

Defending the manifesto, Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson, said, “The railways do not come under the state government. It is a subject to be dealt with the union ministry and we cannot write about it in our manifesto.”

The manifesto of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) only mentions the completion of the monorail by August 15, 2015 and the Bandra-Kurla SEEPZ Metro Rail Corridor. The spokesperson for MPCC, Raju Waghmare, said, “The party in its manifesto cannot mention anything that it is not certain of completing. Even if the party comes to power in the state election, any decision pertaining to the railways will have to be taken by the Centre and we can merely follow it up.”

On the other hand, for the BJP, an integrated transportation system in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is a priority. As a result, the manifesto highlights the setting up of elevated rail and road corridors including the mono and metro rail. And on being questioned regarding the implementation of projects, Madhav Bhandari, BJP spokesperson, said, “We will work on connecting Thane-Kalyan and Bhiwandi to the island city via better rail facilities. There is no space to lay any more railway lines, which makes the elevated corridor a necessity for the state.”

When asked if he believes that there is a need for a separate railway board for the state, Bhandare, said, “Any idea that will create a gap between the state and the center does not come to our mind. Railways has always been with the central government and it should remain so.”

However, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in its manifesto has extensively mentioned the need for a separate railway board. The party leaders view a separate railway board as an opportunity for creating jobs for the youth of the state rather than improving transport. Nitin Sardesai, general secretary of MNS, said, “A separate railway board for the state will create job opportunities.” But when asked how will a separate railway board be created, he said, “We will look into it when we come to power.”

Shruti Kukarni, a resident of Kalwa, said, “I am shocked that none of the politicians care about the suburban network and millions of users each day.”

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal