An area of darkness,left to its own

Ward B,the smallest of city’s 24 wards and comprising areas like Bhendi Bazaar and Masjid Bunder,is still a maze of house gullies and shaky,old structures,reports Sukanya Shantha

Written by SUKANYA SHANTHA | Mumbai | Published: August 20, 2013 1:42 am

It is the smallest of the city’s 24 wards. Yet residents claim it is one of the most ignored stretches in the southern part of the city. Ward B,comprising areas like Dongri,Musjid Bunder and parts of Bhendi Bazaar,is a nightmare during the monsoon. What demands immediate attention is the condition of the house gullies,residents say.

Salma Mustafa,a Balwadi teacher,said,“All my life,I have lived in this area. Roads,drainage lines,traffic,everything is in mess here. Every year people fall sick during the monsoon here.” Salma,whose family shifted to Ibrahim Rahimtullah street in the 1920s,said this area has not seen progress.

The corporators of the ward attribute the mess to the ruling Sena- BJP municipal corporation’s mismanagement. “There is neither proper drainage system or garbage collection system from households and market buildings in B Ward,” says corporator Javed Juneja. His constituency comprises residential and market area. According to Juneja,the problem of house gullies needs to be resolved.

House gullies are narrow stretches of roads not more than a foot wide. This makes it almost impossible for the conservancy staff to enter the house gullies to clean them. “When I was nominated two years ago,I came across stretches which had garbage piled up to a height of over 12-16 feet. The BMC had provided just 25 conservancy workers to clean up. We (Ward B corporators) campaigned for more than a year and now nearly 250 conservancy workers are working to clean up the garbage pile,” Juneja says.

However,residents say while the garbage pile may have eased in the past few years,it is not because of the exclusive efforts of the corporators. “Occasionally we employ people to get the area cleaned. The garbage pile over the sewage line of our building had made it difficult to carry out repair work,” said Sanjay Singh,a resident.

The population of the 2.84 sq km ward is nearly two lakh. The ward sees an additional three lakh people everyday who come to work in the local markets here. The civic administration,however,has failed to keep up with the increasing population.

Also 10 per cent of the city’s 959 dilapidated structures is located here. In cases of emergencies like building collapse and fire,the condition of the narrow stretches of road worsens the situation. “Navigating rescue appliances and fire engines through the ward’s narrow roads,delays rescue operations as it takes a lot of time to move through the heavy traffic in the area,” said a senior an officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade.

“Almost three lakh people visit our ward every day. The outdated garbage disposal system of house-gullies should be changed immediately,” four-time Congress corporator Waqarunissa Ansari said. She added that the old residents are not supportive of her initiatives either. “I tried to campaign door-to-door against the ill- effects of littering and clogging of house gallies. Very few people responded to it. They feel the problems of garbage and sanitation are not their headache. They rely only on corporators to bring in the change,” said Ansari.

Contamination of water is another perinnial problem of the ward. Water lines pass through house gullies and corroded pipes. This means many households receive murky water supply. “Every fourth home I am visiting has at least one person unwell due to contaminated water,” Juneja said.

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