After 14 people died in accidents at Diva railway crossing this year, construction of the rail overbridge has finally started.
The project was proposed two years ago, and the Central Railway (CR) and Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) started the work last month.
To avert further accidents, the CR will close the railway crossing after the rail overbridge is constructed.
According to a TMC official, the rail overbridge will be 723 metres long and 14.8 metres wide and will cost ₹38.56 crore.
“Both TMC and CR have decided to share 50 per cent of the cost. We will complete the project in 18 months,” said TMC official. The foundation stone of the rail overbridge was laid last week.
Around four to five lakh commuters and motorists use the railway crossing to move between the east and west side of Diva. Last year, 69 accidental death reports were registered at the railway crossing.
Accidents often occur at the crossing as commuters cross the track even when the gate is closed, informed an official from GRP, Thane.
“Since 2015, the number of accidents has increased. However, last year’s figures show a slight dip in the number of accidents at the crossing. In many cases, bikers, to save time, cross the railway crossing even when the gate is closed. This is one of the major causes behind the accidents,” said an official from GRP, Thane.
A railway official said the project will benefit the commuters and the railways.
“After the completion of the rail overbridge, we will close the railway crossing gate. This will not only reduce the number of accidents, but will also increase the punctuality of trains,” said a senior official from CR.
The construction of the rail overbridge will be completed within two years, said a TMC official.
“The CR and TMC will simultaneously construct the rail overbridge. The CR will look after the portion that comes under their jurisdiction while the remaining part of the rail overbridge will be constructed by the TMC,” said a senior official from the engineering department of TMC.
Though the project was proposed two years ago, it was delayed due to the land acquisition. A portion of the rail overbridge that is supposed to be built by TMC was owned by the public works department (PWD).
“The TMC had requested the PWD for land acquisition. The project was sanctioned after the land was handed over to the TMC and so the delay,” said a TMC official.
Commuters said the rail ovebridge will ensure a safe and faster travel.
“Besides curbing accidents, the rail overbridge will connect the east and west side of Diva. Presently, there is no alternative for commuters to get either side of the Diva, but the railway crossing,” said Vinayak Bhoite, 44, a resident of Diva.
The rail overbridge will also ease the traffic situation near Diva station, commuters said. “During peak hours, there is huge traffic near the crossing. If there is a technical glitch at the signal at the gate, it adds to delay and the traffic jam,” said Smita Jadhav, 30, a regular commuter from Diva.
Passengers also said the construction of the rail overbridge should have started earlier to reduce accidents.
Nandkumar Deshmukh, president of passengers’ association, Thane, said, “Members of the association had highlighted the issue of accidents at Diva railway crossing several times and pushed for the construction of a rail overbridge. We had even written to the railways about it.”
“ Diva has seen an increase in population in the past five to six years. The number of accidents too has increased. Authorities should ensure the project is completed within the deadline,” said Deshmukh.
Mar 09, 2019 00:33 IST
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