State Public Works Department (PWD) minister Ravindra Chavan on Friday inspected the long-pending funicular train project at Malang Gad and directed officials to complete it on a priority basis.
A religious tourism spot in Maharashtra, Malang Gad also draws nature lovers from Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar and Badlapur. As the climb of 2,600 steps is far too much for senior citizens, women and children, all eyes have been on the funicular train for the last seven years. The proposed two-compartment train will carry 120 passengers.
As part of the project, the Malang Gad hill has been cut to make way for a 1.2-km two-way ropeway. Its foundation stone was laid in February 2013 and the PWD started work in October 2013.
The project, with an initial deadline of March 2015, has been postponed several times. It even missed the last schedule of February 2022, with the cost increasing to Rs 93 crore from Rs 10.42 crore.
At present, it takes devotees over two hours to climb the hill, which will be cut down to 12 minutes with the train.
A senior officer from Supreme Infrastructure India company, which is executing the project, said, “The project was announced in 2008, but it got stuck in clearances from the forest department. The forest ministry finally gave approval in 2012 and the foundation stone was laid in 2013. We were awarded the work by the PWD department for 24 years under Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.”
On Friday, in the presence of Chavan, PWD officials assured that the wait would soon be over.
The Supreme Infrastructure India officer added that only 10 per cent work remains, and the delay occurred due to cutting of the hill.