Work on a three-km patch of notified forest land near Kharkopar is being held up in the second phase of the Nerul/Belapur-Uran corridor. The 14.3 km stretch of phase two will miss its March 2021 deadline.
The patch of notified forest land, along with mangroves, has to be acquired from the forest department by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). The work on the second phase is being carried out on a 33:67 cost-sharing ratio between CIDCO and Central Railway, where CIDCO had to acquire land while the railways will carry out the construction work.
Of the 14.3 km stretch, about 11 km from Gavhan to Uran has been acquired, on which work was started by the Central Railway (CR) in September 2019. However, a crucial three km patch between Kharkopar to Gavhan is yet to be acquired, which will delay the project by at least another year.
A senior official from CR said, “About 20 per cent of the work between Gavhan and Uran has been completed…we have requested CIDCO to acquire the three km patch soon, as without it, the line cannot be completed.”
Meanwhile, CIDCO has been holding detailed meetings forest officials, with the last being held in November in Nagpur. When contacted, a senior official of CIDCO said, “We are trying to resolve the issue and taking cognizance of the objections raised by the Forest Department…We are taking necessary action and will be submitting a reply in the next one week.”
According to a CR official, if the entire land was handed over in January 2019, it would be possible to meet the March 2021 deadline. “But with a crucial link missing, it will be difficult to get it completed,” the official added. The entire stretch between Nerul/Belapur-Uran corridor was 26.7 km, of which a patch of 12.4 km was from Belapur to Kharkopar.
Chief PRO of CR, Shivaji Sutar, said, “We are coordinating with CIDCO officials and working towards completing the project under the targeted deadline subject to land acquisition.”
The first phase of the project from Belapur to Kharkopar was planned in 1997, and only picked up pace after it was reviewed under Pragati Projects by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was finally completed in November 2018. CR, at present, runs 40 suburban services, with 20 services each between Nerul to Kharkopar and Belapur to Kharkopar.