Updated: November 3, 2019 10:34:40 am
WESTERN RAILWAY has identified at least seven of its colonies, four of them in Mumbai, that will be handed over to the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) – the railway’s land development arm – for redevelopment by private players. In absence of assurance on alternate accommodation, the move, initiated following a directive from the Railway Board, has met with strong opposition from Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS), which is planning to hold a demonstration Monday outside railway’s divisional office at Mumbai Central.
In a letter issued to AK Gupta, general manager of Western Railway (WR), the RLDA has requested the Authority to identify railway land that is encroachment-free and where the colony needs redevelopment. A private player will redevelop the colony using money earned through sale of extra flats that will be constructed using additional Floor Space Index (FSI). The railway colony will thus be developed on a self-sustainable model, while the excess revenue generated through the scheme will be deposited to the railways.
An railway official said there were several quarters here were merely four-storey structures, and have additional FSI that could be utilised. Floor Space Index (FSI), also referred to as Floor Area Ratio (FAR), is the ratio of total floor area of a building (built-up area) to the total plot area (land). This numeric value indicates the total amount of area (on all floors) you can build upon a plot.
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RLDA has also urged the railway to ensure that the land details being handed over to them should be free of any operation use planned in the future.
In the letter, RLDA has identified land across six division of WR. Of these four colonies —Khar (East), Santacruz (West), Dahisar (South and North) — spread across 48,824 sq m and housing 820 quarters are in Mumbai division.
A senior official from WR said, “Instead of investing from their own pocket, the railway is looking at a private player which will develop these colonies and also generate revenue. These colonies will be reconstructed with the specified number of quarters, while the vacant space can be utilised by the private player.”
When contacted chief PRO of WR Ravindar Bhakar said, “As per the Boards policy, land is being identified and entrusted to RDLA for commercial exploitation for redeveloping these colonies. The employees living in these dilapidated quarters will be given alternate accommodation as and when RLDA takes up the land.”
However, contesting railway’s claim, JG Mahurkar, general secretary of WRMS, said, “We are a recognised union but no assurance of any such alternate accommodation has been given to us for our employees who risk their lives everyday and work on the tracks. The move has come as a bolt out of the blue.” The union has threatened to stage a protest outside all the six divisional offices of the railways to mark their dissent.
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