Neha Kulkarni & Gargi Verma
Barely 50 km from the heart of Mumbai and along the proposed Rs 1.08 lakh crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train route, Mumbai’s satellite townships of Vasai, Nallasopara and Virar were marooned Tuesday after rail and road connections to Mumbai snapped. After more than 600 mm of rain over the weekend, nearly 1,500 passengers on stalled long-distance trains and nearly 400 residents of low-lying salt pan lands in Manikpur had to be rescued on boats by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
Passengers aboard some of the stalled trains waited anxiously for four to eight hours before being rescued and Western Railway suspended services between Virar and Nallasopara stations early Tuesday, bringing matters to a head for the 3.5 lakh daily commuters of the region.
According to the railway, water levels on the tracks at Nallasopara station reached 200 mm by 8 am, making the movement of trains difficult. On the Mumbai suburban section, services are suspended when the water level crosses 150 mm, to make sure water does not enter train engines. While services continued between Churchgate and Bhayander stations, services north-ward from Nallasopara were suspended till late evening.
Ahead of the monsoon, officials of the Western Railway’s Mumbai suburban division were confident that services would not stop despite heavy rains. On Tuesday, Divisional Railway Manager Sanjay Mishra said, “Nallasopara was never the vulnerable spot to get flooded in the monsoons. It is not just the tracks but the entire area that is waterlogged. A large amount of water from the roads has flown onto the tracks, adding to water levels.” With water levels not receding until late evening, officials said it would be difficult to forecast when services would resume.