For the second time since last month, the special parcel services started by the Central Railway (CR) to provide supplies for residents of Matheran during lockdown, using toy trains, was suspended due to poor response.
The toy train service was started on May 22 to provide essential food items to nearly 5,000 residents of Matheran, which is an ecologically sensitive zone (ESZ) with restrictions on movement of vehicles. It was, however, suspended on June 2 due to poor response. The service was resumed on June 27, only to be stopped again on July 1.
The residents had approached Bombay High Court seeking that vehicles be allowed in the ecologically sensitive zone for transport of essential commodities, as the conventional way of ferrying items — through horses — had been hit with many horse owners returning to their villages due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The court, taking cognizance of the matter, had allowed one vehicle thrice a week to deliver supplies to the residents until September.
However, according to the residents, the single vehicle can only carry goods worth a tonne and is largely used to ferry LPG cylinders. For other purposes, the residents continue to use horses.
The residents maintained that the parcel service has received a poor response as the Aman lodge railway station, where supplies are loaded in the toy trains for delivery, is inaccessible.
Motorised vehicles are only allowed up to Dasturi Naka, beyond which, transporters have to take the goods on horseback to cover a distance of about 300 m to reach Aman Lodge station. “Only if the district authorities allowed motorised vehicles to go up to Aman Lodge station… then the parcel train service could have been feasible,” said Manoj Khedkar, former president of Matheran Municipal Corporation.
He added that they had requested the district authorities to either allow motorised vehicles up to Aman Lodge station or the Railways should allow loading of items about 200 m before the station. “But rail officials said loading cannot be allowed 200 m ahead of the station,” said Khedkar.
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