Mumbai : While three-storeyed slums have enveloped the Foot Over Bridge at Bandra East, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is unfazed and says it will demolish it only in April. The slums that had led to a devastating fire four years ago have only multiplied with time.
The FOB towards the Borivali end in the east has been enveloped from all four sides making it unsafe for a commuter to use it. The RPF has merely managed to demolish two structures next to the railway quarters under the pretext of unsafe structures. The vacated land has been once again encroached by shanties in less than a week. The entire stretch of land expanding from Bandra railway station towards the terminus remains occupied by illegal structures.
When asked, about the steps to be taken for the removal of these illegal structures, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner of Western Railway (WR), Anand Jha said, “We will take action on the illegal occupants in the month of April when we will have the required manpower for the work. With the limited resources, it will not be possible to carry the eviction drive.”
“If the RPF staff is taken off the protection work and deployed for anti-encroachment drive it will compromise the security and safety of commuters at the stations,” he added. The RPF further put the onus on the railways that do not occupy the land once illegal encroachments have been removed. An official from the RPF said, “If the lands are left vacant they are bound to be occupied. The railways need to put up structures or man the land as open land is bound to be occupied.”
General Manager of WR, Hemant Kumar said, “We are working on removing the encroachment along the railway quarters. The anti-encroachment drive is an ongoing process, it is not possible to keep manning the railway land all the time, we will have to keep removing it as and when it will be occupied.”
When asked if he thinks the encroachment can be removed from the area, Kumar said, “We are hopeful but we do not get the required support while the lack of political will is another aspect. It is a very ticklish issue where in the Maharashtra Government has promised to rehabilitate these people. Until the rehabilitation work is completed nothing can be done.”