August 26, 2019 2:01:40 am
PLATFORM 8 at Kurla railway station has long facilitated the journeys of the living as well as the dead. Every once in a while, commuters waiting on this platform for a train to CSMT find themselves in the midst of a funeral procession that enters from the Kalyan-end bridge and exits from the CST-end bridge. The regulars, however, do not flinch because they know that this is the only convenient route for residents of Kurla (East) to access the Kurla Kasaiwada Sunni Muslim Kabrastan.
The Central Railway (CR) is likely to issue tenders for a bridge in the next few days that may ease the final journey of the departed. One of two other routes is a narrow lane lodged between chawls connecting the burial ground to the Nehru Nagar area in Kurla (East). Abdul Mubeen, one of the staff members of the kabrastan, told The Indian Express, “It is so narrow that even a single person finds it difficult to cross the lane. It is not possible for a funeral procession to travel through that gap. Another route is through Chunabhatti, which is so far away from Nehru Nagar that it would take two hours to get the procession to the graveyard. The route through the railway platform usually takes around 20 minutes.”
Another office-bearer said even if someone dies in Kurla (West) in areas near the railway station, the funeral procession has to use the railway bridge to come to the Kasaiwada kabrastan.
“The saving grace is that the procession does not have to pass through the railway platform,” said another officer-bearer, adding, “we have written to the authorities so many times but we haven’t got any response. We do not like taking funeral processions through railway platforms but people know that we don’t have another option. We are hopeful that the issue will be sorted out at the earliest.”
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Latif Shaikh, a local resident who has followed up on the issue with the authorities, said, “It is inconvenient for people to climb stairs while supporting the casket carrying the body on their shoulders. It could be a security hazard as sometimes there are scores of people in the procession. If a train comes at the same time during peak hours, it could lead to chaos. It is a disaster waiting to happen and something should be done at the earliest.”
Shaikh said the local corporator Kaptan Malik and legislator Mangesh Kudalkar had extended help. The issue was first put forward to the civic body that decided that a bridge could be built, connecting Nehru Nagar to the graveyard, after demolishing illegal chawls that have mushroomed along the way. Malik said, “The bridges department of the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) provided Rs 8.75 crore to the railways last year to construct the bridge.”
But Sanjeev Kulshreshtha, senior divisional engineer (estate), CR, said while they had received a payment from the BMC, the amount was not Rs 8.75 crore. “We had earlier called for tenders but we had to cancel them as there are encroachments where the bridge is to be constructed,” he said.
He added that they had held a meeting with local ward officials and were given an assurance that the encroachments will be removed. They were asked to go ahead with the tendering process.
He further said, “We should be able to start the process by November 1 and if everything goes well, by April next year, the bridge should be up and running.” Ward officer of L ward Manish Vanjade said, “We had two meetings with the railways and have told them that once they provide us with the exact details of where the bridge will come up and what structures need to be demolished, we will do the needful.”
Shaikh said, “The issue has faced several delays in the past. The issue should sorted out at the earliest as it causes a lot of inconvenience. The living as well as the dead deserve some dignity.”
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