As Mumbai is all set to get 34,500 more autorickshaws, a debate on its pros and cons has kicked off.
Those who want more autorickshaws on the roads say the number has stayed constant at around 1.07 lakh since 1998 despite the population of the suburbs increasing by several lakhs.
Others point to the situation at Andheri station. With a share of around 50,000 out of the 7
lakh-odd tickets sold on Western Railway’s suburban system, Andheri is among the busiest railway stations in the country. With the Andheri-Kurla Road turning into one of the country’s busiest commercial stretches, the number of people alighting at Andheri has increased. This in turn brings in a huge number of rickshaws.
A major complaint of the BEST is that during the morning and evening rush hours, their buses are unable to come out of the Andheri (East) depot bordering Nityanand Road.”The problem is that autorickshaws naturally follow business. So even if it means overcrowding, a rickshaw will line up where they get to pick and choose rather than where there is a need,” says a rickshaw unionist. Unfortunately, an out-of-the-box solution is in a limbo.
The proposal was to create a deck on the top of Andheri station along its eastern flank as this would allow autorickshaws to decongest Nityanand Road. The deck would then move over the station and move out from its north-eastern part. While construction goes on furiously on the deck, the problem of getting rickshaws to cross one of the country’s largest foot-overbridges on the station’s northern end remains unsolved.