Member of Parliament Arvind Sawant has pledged financial assistance to suburban railways from the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD)corpus to build new toilets and repair those in poor condition at stations in his constituency.
Sawant was speaking on the sidelines of a railway event, where he along with Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai and Member of Legislative Assembly Annie Shekhar inaugurated the longest Foot Over Bridge (FOB) on Indian Railways at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on Monday.
“I am willing to give funds for each station that does not have toilets or where the condition of toilets is bad, especially for women,” said Sawant in response to a query by the Newsline on the use of MP fund for passenger amenities. MPs get Rs 5 core as MPLAD fund each year for various development works in their constituency. Railway stations from CST to Sewri on Harbour line and CST to Parel on mainline of Central Railway and Churchgate to Mumbai Central on Western Railway fall under the Mumbai South parliamentary constituency represented by Sawant.
Sawant promised to give funds to the railways after being pointed out that Public Private Partnership (PPP) model has failed for construction of the essential passenger amenity on suburban stations.
As per railway sources, despite approaching MPs for funds in the past, the railways were not given any money for passenger amenities.
Railway officers said development of infrastructure would not suffice as maintenance of toilets is a far bigger issue.
“Maintenance of toilets is as important as having the complete infrastructure. Also at smaller stations, especially on Harbour line, there is a shortage of land to create toilets,” said a senior railway officer.
The MP asked General Manager S.K.Sood and Divisional Railway Manager Mukesh Nigam to inform him about the requirement of funds after estimating the quantum of work required.
The 364 metre long FOB, of which 270 metre is newly constructed, connects all 18 platforms at CST, providing relief to passengers coming from Sir J.J.Flyover and P. D’Mello Road. Sawant also promised to ensure the much awaited additional FOB at Currey Road station is constructed soon.
“TheBMC has already given funds to the Railways in 2010, however, due to some reason the work has not been carried out. I have asked the railways to speed up the work,” said the MP.
The feasibility of halting fast trains at Parel railway station was also discussed. Divisional Railway Manager, Mukesh Nigam said the railways would examine the proposal. Nigam said, “Given the load at Dadar railway station, we cannot skip it as a halt for any train during peak hours. Parel railway station is too close to Dadar railway station and therefore it is difficult to halt a fast train at Parel as it will have a repercussion on other trains.”