Worst affected regions in the city include stretch between King’s Circle, GTBN and Bandra.
Mumbai: Mumbai railway land, one of the prime real estate areas in the city, has been heavily encroached upon and citizens have been complaining about the encroachment for years together. In fact, the Central Railway (CR) has got approximately 52 complaints in the past year while Western Railway (WR) has received 10. In a recent enquiry about the exact amount of land encroached upon, it has come to light that around 37.25 hectare of land that comes under CR and 41.2 hectare that comes under WR, has been encroached upon in their Mumbai jurisdiction.
These encroachments, said railway officials, have only been growing through the years. A railway official said, “Say around 30 years ago, no one took the encroachment as seriously as they should have. The railways knew that it is a problem but because of the attitude that the ‘next officer in my post will do it’ and additionally the public at large who were encroaching felt that no one is bothered, railway land is as heavily encroached upon as you see today.”
One of the densest pockets of encroachment is seen on the harbour line stretch between King’s Circle, Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar (GTBN) and finally Bandra on WR.
The CR records shows that there are roughly 10,000 encroachments from CST to Karjat and Kasara as well as all the way to Panvel on the harbour line. On the other hand, WR has around 5,000 encroachments spread out from Churchgate to Dahanu.
Guarang Damani, a resident of King’s Circle, is one of those who has complained against the problem. Mr Damani, who wrote to CR’s headquarters at CST as recently as January 4, said his correspondence with authorities over the issue goes back 10 years.
He said, “I have been asking CR to clear up the encroachment from at Raoli junction, which encompasses King’s Circle, GTBN and then all the way to Vadala.”
He further added, “I have been asking the railways that they need to clear the encroachment spaces for a lot of reasons, including safety of the passengers and avoiding deaths due to trespassing but also the utilisation of this land for improving the infrastructure.”
Mr Damani is a firm believer in boundary walls for the railways and says the railways has not upgraded these walls, which need to be six-feet high and four-feet wide.
Another such citizen is Kalash Verma, who has been voicing his protest about the encroachment in Bandra in particular. “Bandra, as well as pockets of Jogeshwari, have been heavily encroached upon and we have been asking the railways to take initiative in not chasing them out of the areas but also in giving them an alternate living space,” he said.
When asked about the action taken on the encroached spaces, CR divisional railway manager Ravindra Goyal said, “We have demolished a high number of encroachments in the last one year. In fact, we have demolished 1,931 structures from September 2016 to February 2017 and are doing further demolitions on a war footing.”
On the other hand, WR has demolished 1,898 encroachments last year, chief public relations officer Ravindra Bhakar said. “We have been constantly working to remove encroachments on our line and it is an ongoing process for us,” he said.