Aug 12, 2017

Here's How Vegetables Grown On Mumbai Railway Tracks Get Into Your Kitchens And End Up Harming You



Green leafy vegetables are prescribed by doctors everywhere. People are even trying to grow them in the corners of their homes. There’s a similar trend in posh neighbourhoods of Mumbai, quite the treat to the eyes. 

On the other hand, there are the small tiny ‘gardens’ that are grown by some Mumbaikars, but not in the most favourable of places. Namely, the railway tracks. Obviously, the sight one sees on an early morning at the railway tracks in Mumbai is downright gross – people answering nature’s call in public, throwing plastic wrappers and waste on the tracks, and the unnerving stench of the trash thrown in the Mithi river.
Nobody would like their vegetables to be grown in water from the gutters, however, happens to be an unfortunate reality for Mumbaikars. In monsoon, when people get particularly annoyed with the water and filth teaming up to harm one's health, growing vegetables in such water is something everyone would detest.

This can be witnessed by all the commuters, who travel in the local trains. The stretches between Goregaon-Jogeshwari on the Western railway line, Dadar-Parel on the Central railway line and patches of land from Panvel on the Harbor railway line.

There was a time about a decade ago when people’s livings depended on farming on the railway tracks. A number of veggies grown may have reduced over the last ten years, but it has certainly not stopped. Carrots, radishes, spinach and other green leafy vegetables are a part of the farming that happens in the patches of land between stations. Kalyan, Dombivali, Bhandup, Vikhroli, Kurla, Parel, Andheri, Juinagar, Belapur, Nerul, Jogeshwari, Malad, Borivali and Kalwa.

It all began in the 1970s when the government decided to lease the land under the ‘Grow More Food’ where the vacant land of the railways is given on license to railway employees working in Group 'C' and 'D' category under Grow More Food (GMF) scheme. However, the licensing of railway land to private parties for the purposes not connected with railway working is not permitted according to the policy of Indian railways.

There have been complaints against this ‘gutter water farming’, where activists went ahead and got these vegetables tested. Reports suggested that these vegetables were hazardous for long term consumption and can lead to early onset of Parkinson’s disease. There are no other natural and pure resources of consumption. The only way the vegetation is grown is by adding water from resources that are mostly industrial and contain harmful chemicals that can have both short and long term effects post consumption.

The reports revealed a high amount of cadmium, zinc, chromium, lead, cobalt and some level arsenic which was higher than the limit recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO).

The PRO of Central Railway A K Singh spoke to us and denied that the practice still exists, “We do not know of this practice existing anymore. The railways have not come across farming on tracks for a few years now,” he said.

The total amount leased by the Central Railway is more than 8000 acres, making all citizens questions any and every green leafy vegetable they eat.
Source - India Times