New Dhobi Ghat or a white wash?
The iconic Dhobi Ghat is likely to turn into a cause of a political battle very soon. To preserve the landmark, slums around are to be redeveloped. However, when some illegal structures in the vicinity were raised last month for the redevelopment project, it faced a stiff opposition. With 4,000 slums and a population of over 20,000 Dhobi community members, the redevelopment project was bound to attract allegations of political motives on some or the other side. Mumbai had forgotten this kind of opposition to development work in recent times, that too for a project worth I2,600 crore.
Maoist poster inside train compartment
Just as the suburban rail services are Mumbai’s lifeline, they also mirror the mood of the city and offer a key to what is on the minds of the citizens. The killing of 40 Maoist extremists in police action last month at the other end of Maharashtra reflected in the Mumbai local trains recently. A graffiti paying homage to the Maoists surfaced in a local train that read — ‘Red salute to Gadchiroli martyrs’ and ‘Long live the Eevolution’. The graffiti inside a first-class compartment on harbour line was accompanied by the hammer-and-sickle icon. After a few commuters lodged a complaint, the railway police are trying to find out the people behind the graffiti plan.
Central Railway happy with rise in ridership
Mumbai’s suburban railway is a mind-boggling transport system. On an average, a whopping 43 lakh commuters use its suburban routes daily. Now, railway officers realise the numbers have gone up by around a hundred thousand more every day. The Central Railway had added some hundred odd services over the past year and also extended harbour services up to Goregaon on the western line. This fetched 62 lakh new passengers in April and May. Profits are up by about I5 crore. The number of commuters on suburban section had come down over the past few years. But, the trend now appears to have started reverting after the new findings about passengers.
Technical snag gets new meaning
Apart from minding the gap between the foot board and the platform, ‘technical snag’ is another term that suburban train commuters are well versed with. Problems ranging from those caused by crows to faults in signalling system caused by rodents are covered under the blanket term. However, recently, a new reason has been added to the term: unavailability of motormen. While the unions claim that over 20 per cent of the motorman posts are vacant, the railway insists the numbers are adequate to run current number of services. However, none of them want to highlight the stress that the motormen face due to which early retirement is becoming a trend.
Our correspondent in Maharashtra