Court to hear PIL on packed trains
22 Jan, 2006 l 0132 hrs ISTl
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MUMBAI: The issue of overcrowding of suburban trains and delay in the quadrupling of tracks between Borivli and Virar has reached the Bombay HC. The Janhit Manch, an NGO has filed a PIL seeking the court's directions to Western Railways to expedite work on the project. As per the 2001 census, the population of Mira-Bhayander, Vasai, Nallasopara and Virar had shot up to around 10 lakh. Bhagwanji Rayani, the man behind the PIL, is himself a regular traveller on the line and has submitted photographs of overcrowded trains between Borivli and Virar. "The passengers hang from the doors, travel on the rooftop, stand in the gap between coaches and even on windows," said Rayani in his petition. "This is extremely dangerous, but they have no option," he added. Before filing the PIL, Rayani submitted an application under the Right to Information Act, details of which were used to corroborate the claims in the petition.
The public information officer of the railways, in response to Rayani's queries, said during peak hours 3,408 commuters travel in nine-car rakes, while 4,544 are packed into 12-car rakes. The actual capacity of the rakes are 852 and 1,136 commuters respectively. The project of quadrupling of the tracks began in 1997 under the aegis of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation and is a part of the Mumbai Urban Infrastructural Project. "The encroachments along the tracks and the failure of the contractors to carry out work have held up the project," said the officer. "The work can be completed 18 months after the removal of the encroachments by MMRDA," he added. The PIL has urged the court to set a December 31, 2006, deadline for the project. It is likely to come up before the court on Wednesday.
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