In the quiet expanse between Virar and Borivali, nestled within the western railway lines of Vasai, a storm brews, not of the natural kind but one of discontent and concern among the local residents. The heart of the issue? The proposed acquisition of land by the railways to lay down the 5th and 6th tracks, an endeavor aimed at enhancing rail connectivity and infrastructure. But with every plan of development comes a tale of those whose lives are poised for upheaval, and this story is no different.

The controversy began to unfold when the residents of five villages in the western part of Vasai, namely Umela, Umelman, Diwanman, Manickpur, and Navghar, raised their voices against what they perceived as an error-ridden notification issued by the railways. This document, according to the locals, misidentifies the land earmarked for acquisition, causing undue stress and confusion among the populace.

The railways’ plan is ambitious and far-reaching. It entails the construction of the 5th and 6th railway tracks between Virar and Borivali, alongside the development of a 30-track yard. This massive undertaking is poised to directly affect the homes and lives of many in the aforementioned villages. Understandably, the announcement has not been received well, sparking a wave of agitation among the villagers.

On a Tuesday, a significant meeting took place where representatives from the Umela Gaon Bachao Samiti engaged in discussions with railway officials. The bone of contention? The land survey numbers. According to the villagers, the correct survey number is 121(A), a piece of land they claim is government-owned and thus, theoretically, easier to deal with in terms of acquisition. However, the notification mistakenly cites survey number 21, leading to a significant discrepancy and confusion. This mistake, the villagers argue, is not just a clerical error but a looming threat to their homes and heritage.

In response to the outcry, the locals have put forth a demand for a new survey, hoping for a reassessment that might spare their homes from being uprooted. This demand for a reevaluation was communicated to the railway officials during their meeting with the Umela Village Save Committee.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the development goals of the railways and the concerns of the affected villagers, a “Railway Council” meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, March 7th, at 10:30 AM in the Anand Nagar area of Vasai West, at the Vishwakarma Hall. The meeting, to be chaired by the MP of Palghar, Rajendra Gavit, aims to provide a platform for dialogue. It seeks to bring under one roof the villagers, railway officials, and other stakeholders, to discuss, deliberate, and hopefully, devise a solution that is acceptable to all.

This gathering is more than just a meeting. It is a crucial juncture that will decide the fate of many – a platform where the grievances of the villagers will be heard, where their fears and anxieties will be addressed, and where the railways, tasked with the nation’s development, will have an opportunity to present their case, explain their intentions, and possibly, find a middle ground.

The residents of these five villages stand at a crossroads, their lives intertwined with the future of India’s railway expansion. Their demand for a new survey is a plea for reassurance, a hope that their homes and histories will be preserved even as the nation strides forward. As Thursday approaches, all eyes are on the Railway Council meeting, a gathering that promises to be a confluence of emotions, expectations, and, above all, a quest for a resolution that respects both the imperatives of development and the sanctity of individual lives.