At Ghorpadi, two bridges to make rail crossings easier

As far as railway crossings go, the two at — within a space of one kilometre — are a nightmare.
Thousands line up daily at the crossings that have gates shut at least 50 times a day.

To ease congestion, the has identified 190 properties that are to be demolished to make way for two rail over bridges (ROBs) at the Ghorpadi crossing. One bridge each will be built over the Pune-Miraj and the railway lines.

But the construction of these structures involves coordination between the PMC, PCB, Central Railways and private citizens.

The Ministry of Defence has already allowed the PMC to construct the bridges on 2.8416 acres of defence land — 1.1126 acres for the Pune-Miraj ROB and 1.729 acre for the Pune-Solapur ROB.

PMC has also shot off letters to the Pune Cantonment Board and Railways, asking higher-ups to decide on compensation to people whose property falls within the limits of the ROBs project. But there have been delays.

Milind Deouskar, the Pune division railway manager, says he is still waiting for the PMC to respond to changes made in its plans.

“PMC engineers submitted the plans to us nearly a month ago. Our engineers then made certain changes. The PMC is yet to come back to us with fresh plans.”

The Railways, meanwhile, are willing to relocate employees staying in the area. The PCB, however, wants the PMC to “rehabilitate” property owners who have been living on Cantonment land. And while the government bodies debate, the police force says clearing of encroachments will reduce congestion in the area.

“If encroachments, starting from the first ROB — from Saibaba temple to Anant talkies — are removed then the road can be widened by 4.5 or 5ft on both sides, says J M Pathan, a senior inspector with Wanowrie traffic division. “We will also be able to stop wrongside driving at the Miraj railway crossing if dividers are installed. Stalls allotted by the Railways can then be relocated and width of the old Bridge can be widened by constructing a new bridge,” Pathan adds.

The senior cop says clearing of encroachments will have an impact on the entire area. “Congestion on the route via the Solapur railway crossing, from Mudhwa into Ghorpadi, can be eased if illegal shops and stalls are removed from Jaihind Chowk, near Ghorpadi market. The second crossing between Anant Talkies to Mundhwa and B T road to Ghorpadi must be converted into a no-entry zone and motorists can use Sopan Baug Road to reach Pune-Solapur route. Traffic coming from Mundhwa to Ghorpadi can take a left turn from the crossing to B T Kawade Road,” says Pathan, who insists dividers can be installed on the road between the Mundhwa railway gate and Anant Talkies.

But resident Govind Jagtap believes there is no space for dividers. “There is no space for dividers. We have vehicles parked on both sides of road,” he says. Businessman Shekhar Kawade says: “Pedestrians are being forced to walk on the road because shopkeepers have also taken up footpath space. Ambulances and fire tenders are having a tough time reaching emergency locations here.”

Lawyer Rahul Dindokar says: “The rail crossing is closed most times. Army has closed the Elliot Line (road) to Koregaon Park and Kalyaninagar. So one has to now travel a few extra kilometers for Koregaon Park, and Magarpatta. Often, it takes an hour to pass the crossing.”

But shopkeeper is worried about the uncertainty businesses such as his are facing. “The PMC and PCB have not taken into confidence the people who are going to be impacted by the construction. We want the PMC or PCB to rehabilitate us. However, we don‘t know who will take that decision,” says Rajore.‘‘ The PCB and the PMC have been debating the matter of clearing encroachments for a while now. “A large number of PMC residents are using the railway crossings to reach Camp. About 40% congestion will ease if encroachments are cleared. The clearing of encroachments must be a joint effort, but that has not happened in a year,” says PCB chief executive officer D N Yadav.

PCB member Kiran Mantri has a similar opinion. “We had a proposal to widen the old Bhairobanala bridge. But underpasses cannot be built because of Bhairobanala. We want the PMC to speed up the ROB project. The bridges have been part of citizen appeals for the past four decades.”

A PMC official admits the civic body had decided to build ROBs back in 2008 because Ghorpadi was a vital link between zones. “We want the process of land acquisition to be expedited for the widening and constructing service road before floating tenders for the project,” the official said.

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