MUMBAI: Social networks and picture-sharing websites are aflush with complaints and photographs posted by residents affected by the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor of the Mumbai Metro. They protest that roads were built to accommodate traffic metres away, not rail tracks outside the window.
All along the Metro’s 12-km route, people are grumbling about the railway corridor that is coming up outside their balconies and bedrooms. Trees, birds and motorable roads have been lost to heavy construction that not only blocks out the sun and the wind but brings the frightening prospect of milling crowds and noise pollution.
Noise barriers and view cutters will be provided outside stretches like Amitabh Bachchan’s Juhu residence, according to officials, but the rest might have to get accustomed to intrusion. Among them will be a maternity home in Andheri, which will have to suffer the rude jolt of the Versova local trundling by every three minutes.
“Commuting was a breeze along the wide six-lane Jayprakash Road that leads from Andheri station to Versova. Now residents barely open their windows. Since the last three years we have been suffering pollution because of the 24-hour construction work,” says Ashok Nayak, a resident of Eversweet Apartment at Seven Bungalows.
Near Andheri station, the owner of Sony Mony Electronics recently renovated his showroom at a huge cost. “Now access is barred because the escalator for the station is being constructed at our doorstep,” says Ramesh Shah. “Let alone park their cars, customers cannot even step in. Business on J P Road is down by 70% since Metro work began.”
The Shahs approached Reliance Metro officials, requesting them to alter the layout by a few feet to a dilapidated building nearby, but nothing came of it. A Reliance spokesperson said they have a “limited to no role in the design of the Metro. It is the MMRDA that prepares and approves the plans”.
“Property rates have begun to plummet in areas that were once considered prime locations. There are sound pollution norms to ‘protect’ the ailing, senior citizens, children and pets during cultural festivals, but how do we deal with a train outside the window?” says Sharad Shah, a Saki Naka businessman who has been watching the slow pace of construction destroy his livelihood.