A 22-storey skyscraper is holding up Western Railway’s much-needed expansion plans for Lines 5 and 6. The building next to Dadar railway station, built by WR for railway staff, has been ready for a year but has not received an occupation certificate and water connection. This means that railway staff from Vile Parle, who are supposed to move in to the new building, are unable to do so.
Until the Vile Parle building is demolished, the work of laying tracks for Line 6 cannot begin. The new rail lines will segregate suburban and long distance trains. The construction work on the building began nearly 5 years ago and by 2019, the basic structure of the tower was ready. There are two wings to the building, which can accommodate 160 tenements. The cost of construction has risen from Rs 27 crore to Rs 34 crore due to delays.
“It has been almost a year now that construction of this 22-storey building is complete. It was meant for railway staff residing at Vile Parle, whose buildings will be demolished for laying the 6th line. However, the administration has still not shifted them,” said Prashant Kanade, divisional secretary (Mumbai), Western Railway Employees Union. There are around 120 families at Vile Parle on the east side whose ground plus-two storey structures will be demolished for construction of the 6th rail line. These families are to be shifted to the Dadar skyscraper.
“This building is yet to receive an occupation certificate and water connection,” confirmed Ravinder Bhakar, CPRO, WR. Railway unions claim that ever since Indian Railways signed an agreement to give away 45 acres of their land, which includes 16.44 acres on WR between Dadar and Mahim, the rail staff residing in Matunga Road quarters have demanded to be rehabilitated in this residential tower in Dadar. There are around 108 tenements in Matunga Road quarters. WR officials claim that they are in the process of getting permissions so that their staff can be shifted. Since 2008, the project, whose estimated cost once stood at Rs 430 crore, has been dogged by many issues. The deadline has been set at 2022 for the rail lines to be ready.
Initially there were problems pertaining to encroachments – there were over 700 encroachments between Kandivali-Malad, Malad-Goregaon and Ram Mandir-Jogeshwari stations – apart from rail staff quarters that also stood on this alignment. The encroachments have now been cleared but the shifting of staff from their quarters still remains. In total, the WR needs 1,746 sq meters of land between Borivali and Mumbai Central. In August 2019, the WR also decided to stack ballasts (stones) for laying between tracks for 5-6 lines at a cost of Rs 11.35 crore and transplanting trees at a cost of Rs 95 lakh. Meanwhile construction of 5th line between Mahim and santacruz is almost complete.
In fact the connection was done after spending Rs 10 crore but the locals in Bandra (E) opposed it as there is a burial ground next to the 5th line and that they would not be able to go here once the line becomes operational. So the WR authorities decided to take a detour of the 5th line via Bandra Terminus.