Wednesday's downpour has once again turned the spotlight on the cleaning — or the lack of it — of drains and culverts that run beneath railway tracks.
The arrangement is such that the BMC pays both Western and Central Railways to clean the stretch of culverts and drains that run through railway territory. Now a Right to Information plea made by activist Anil Galgali has shown that on several occasions the railways was unable to spend the entire money given by the BMC. At least 41% remained unspent.
The RTI plea revealed that in the past five years, BMC gave Rs7,47,34,516 to CR but CR managed to spend only Rs3,84,00,656, a substantial Rs3,63,34,060 remaining unspent. Similarly, BMC gave WR Rs2,12,08,000 in the past five years of which Rs30,78,368 remained unspent.
"The railways' efforts into cleaning drains and culverts seems haphazard and disorganised. The railways doesn't keep any data on the debris that is removed from the culverts. Unfortunately, it is the people who suffer because trains stop during rains and lakhs of commuters are stranded," Galgali said.
But railway authorities defended themselves saying the work of cleaning drains is becoming tougher by the day as the quantity of muck flowing into the drains keeps rising.
Speaking to dna, CR divisional railway manager Mukesh Nigam said: "It is not about pointing fingers. Cleaning of culverts and drains is a continuous process and we try to do our best because our primary aim is to ensure trains run on time. But with every passing day the muck flowing into drains continues to increase and the work gets difficult."
Western Railway DRM Shailendra Kumar said the process of cleaning drains is a joint effort by the railways and the BMC and the work done is tabulated in a transparent manner. "It is not as if the entire amount has to be spent. The money spent is proportional to the work done. If a balance comes up, we can spend it later because drain-cleaning happens throughout the year," Kumar said.
CR has 71 drains and culverts between CST and Thane on the mainline and CST and Mankhurd on the harbour line. WR has 43 culverts in its jurisdiction.