Metro authorities humiliating ordinary commuters

mumbai suburban train

A seemingly good decision to provide free insurance to commuters of two lines on the Mumbai Metro is also highly discriminatory and almost insulting to suburban train and bus commuters.

Who needs insurance and accident compensation more ? Obviously, suburban rail commuters, nearly three thousand of them die each year due to overcrowding and others issues.

Yet, each one of the victims has to struggle for years in litigation to get compensation.

And here they are giving a generous compensation of Rs five lakh per Metro rail commuters. It is also a bit of a self mockery. Precisely because the Metro authorities have been boasting all these years that this mode of transport is much safer and is needed because so many people are dying on the suburban tracks.

The ridership on these two Metro lines running between Gundavali junction and Dahisar is now laughbably low exposing how hollow have been the claims of the authorities.

The chief of Metro Mr S.V.R. Srinivas is also the head of MMRDA which covers planning for the entire Mumbai region which includes suburban rail and bus commutes. How can the authorities discriminate so blatantly particularly against commuters who travel in extremely hazardous conditions day in and day out and their numbers are hundreds of times more than of metro rail commuters. The metro journey is very comfortable because the Metro rail is so empty.

The only explanation can be that the free insurance is a bait to attract more commuters. Besides, the authorities are giving this benefit to commutes who are much better off normally than users of suburban trains and buses. Metro fares are much higher.

The suburban rail and BEST bus network is the lifeline of Mumbai, the Metro is carrying a pitifully small number yet the amount of publicity it is garnering in self aggrandizement is amazing. It is like the frog in the fable trying to outsize the bull. That is the situation at present.

True in the long run it will get more customers but that will come at the cost of the far superior and low cost options of suburban rail and bus, it is ultimately a great betrayal of financial wisdom.

Sections of the bureaucracy live in absolute denial of reality, when they talk of public transport they very often do not even mention the BEST bus system which carries lakhs of commuters daily..

If the authorities had any concern for urban transport, the first thing any person worth the salt would seek reduce the number of cars, that is the crux really. But the whole establishment is totally subservient to the automobile lobby.

It is clear that many in the government do not have any idea of reality. All the time they want to prioritise the issue of car parking over people’s basic needs.

A Metro rail official recently told Miloni Bhatt of Economic Times that the parking authority in Mumbai has laid out a roadmap for parking in Mumbai. Really, then why are we not hearing, reading about it, why is there such secrecy about its working ? The authorities are living in absolute denial, they seem not to be aware at all that so many high rises with parking facilities are lying absolutely empty. This is a disgrace for the city and no one is talking about it.

It is amazing that officials insist on talking of smart mobility and seamless travel unaware of the harsh conditions in which people travel and life is getting worse.

Metro rail proposes to constrct an entire Metro station right on the busy artery of S.V. road at the extremely busy HP or Bandra talkies junction and you call it smart mobility and seamless travel ?After causing severe damage to many areas in Mumbai and causing traffic jams for years with its shoddy work, the Metro rail network is set to create even more problems. A fairly big demonstration was held in the Sadhu Vasvani garden in Bandra last week against the decision to construct the station . In the garden because a portion of the garden will also be gobbled for this project.

As it is this junction is notorious for its traffic jams as is the Lucky junction some distance away. Often these are not ordinary jams, traffic comes to a halt on all four sides, it is a paralysis actually. And now the Metro people want to make it even worse ? Do they understand the basics ? Clearly there is enormously poor planning and execution by MMRDA, its allegedly expert consultants and the government.

As is well known S.V. road is one of the main arteries. By making conditions worse, the remedy is proving to be worse than the disease.

Pashin Kalpitia, chief of the welfare association of Tata Parsi blocks colony on S.V. road, said the site of the station has been suddenly shifted from National college without any public consultation.

Mr Raj Khalid, a founder of Mumbai Khalid, said a public interest litigation should be seriously considered. He also suggested that Mr V.K. Phatak, a former chief of planning in MMRDA should be brought on board.

Dilnavaz Dalal, a resident of Tata blocks, was particularly sad because so many trees will be cut for the unjustifiable project.

The question is if MMRDA is so confident about its technical expertise why is it so afraid of facing the public, answering simple questions ?

Mr Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of the book Traffic in the era of climate change

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