On August 19th 2019 heavy Monsoon Rainfall with over 400 mm has severely damaged the 2 feet Narrow Gauge Railtrack at 21 spots. The patch repair works since 2005/06 proved again to be not stable against the impact of heavy monsoon.
Now again about 20 Crore INR are asked to bring the vulnerable track into operation.
It is the Challenge to make Matheran Transport Monsoon proof! Preventive Measurements to secure Road and Railtrack from Destructions caused by the impact of heavy Monsoon Rainfall are:
- A comprehensive Surface Water Management with a dens Network of Catch/Berm/Interception Drains above the Routes,
- Preventive Removal of loose Rocks and Gravel endangering the Routes,
- Rock- and Slope-Stabilisation with Rock Bolt-Anchors,
- Well anchored Retaining Walls,
- Solid Protection Galleries,
- Use of Hill/Slope-Side Bridges at vulnerable Spots and Corners.
In order to secure the long term existence of the scenic and heritage Neral-Matheran Railway, massive investments would have to be made to upgrade the tracks in order to make the route resistant to the rigors of Mother Nature in the rainy seasons. Technically, it is possible to upgrade the rail track so that it can withstand the influence of heavy rain falls in the long run. If the required investment does not happen and the current patch repairs remain the rule, the toy train has no future.
The plan with battery operated cart and rickshaw transport will not work economically. The energy to lift the heavy loads up from the height of Aman Lodge up to Matheran Market has to be stored in the batteries. After one run they will be empty and need to be charged, which will take longer than one run. The present manual coolie practice will remain cheaper and more economical. It gives also income to local people. However their work should be made easier by flattening the steep gradient at the hairpin curvature between Aman Lodge and Way Side Inn.
To boost tourism, the Maharashtra State Government has approved the development project with clay paver blocks for covering the unpaved roads and pathways. When giving Matheran a “MAKEOVER” by laying clay paver blocks on the cart roads one has to consider, that the terrain near Beatrice Cliff is not stable. The section, which went adrift and slit down during the 2005 monsoon rainfall, the so-called 2005 Maharashtra 9 floods, is still yielding and flowing.
To prevent further hill slip, the whole area has to by catch-drained to prevent the water soaking into the ground and causing further earth slips. This has to be well understood.
The next monsoon is already on the way to come.
To read more: Download MATHERAN TRANSPORT, PART Vc