Residents oppose WR Laundry

Mumbai: Residents of Grant Road (E) are up in arms over a high tech railway laundry set up in the middle of the densely populated area, saying the plant would add to the noise pollution and worsen the quality of air.They have written to the BMC questioning its decision to allow the plant in a residential neighbourhood.

The mechanised laundry, where linen and pillow covers used on long-distance trains will be washed, has come up at an old Western Railway parcel depot and it is surrounded by residential buildings, including a railway staff colony. At least 120 families live in the area, which has a school and a playground.

The plan is expected to be inaugurated on Tuesday and it will function round the clock.

Parvati Pandya, 52, who lives in Star Mansion apartments, has been taking up the issue with BMC officials for the past year. “The entire Grant Road was shocked the day the huge chimney arrived here. Many senior citizens live here and the fumes from the plant may worsen their asthma problem,” Pandya said. “I approached the BMC and the railways, but I was told the project cannot be stopped as a lot of money had been spent on it.”

Pandya claimed the BMC had not formally given any permission for the plant. “We have sent several letters, but it is shocking the way BMC is ignoring the issue.”

A senior BMC official said there was nothing the civic body could do as the laundry had come up on railway land.

But the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said relevant permissions for such units were generally given by local municipal officials. “All areas are classified as residential, commercial or industrial zones. If the area [in question] has several residential quarters, permission should not have been given,” MPCB regional officer Dilip Khedkar told. “But one would have to check with the BMC about the plant’s exact location.”

Western Railway’s chief spokesperson, Sharat Chandrayan, said the plant had been set up after securing all permissions. “The railways will follow strict pollution and noise control norms,” he said.