Plush towers, slums, hawkers, snarls: A study in contrasts

There are also more than 60 open spaces in R South Ward, of which around 30 are under the BMC.

Written by Dipti Singh | Mumbai | Published:January 31, 2017 4:33 am
mumbai elections, mumbai civic polls, mumbai civic elections, mumbai wards, Akurli road ward, south block ward, mumbai news, india news The Akurli Road in Kandivli East witnesses heavy traffic jams, especially during peak hours. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

WHILE Thakur Village in Kandivli East is a hub of posh real estate with hundreds of multi-storey ‘towers’, 65 per cent of R South Ward actually lives in slums. From the high-end residential apartment complexes fitted out with pools and clubhouses to old bungalows to sprawling slums where basic amenities are missing, R South is one of those wards known to be a region of sharp contrasts. Thakur Village, a rapidly developed locality, houses some of the tallest residential buildings of the city’s suburbs. Lokhandwala Township nearby, developed over the last 15 years, has more than 40 very plush residential societies.

R South Ward covers Kandivli East and West, and includes Lokhandwala Township, Thakur Complex and Thakur Village. It also covers areas such as Samata Nagar, Damu Nagar, Charkop, Mahavir Nagar, Dahanukar Wadi, Aarya Chanakya Nagar, Poisar, Rajaram and Ashok Nagar, Vadarpada, Dattani Park and Irani Wadi. Across the spectrum, the issue of hawking and non-hawking zones are a complaint from residents. There are major illegal hawking hubs outside Kandivli railway station. The civic body has failed to control illegal hawking across Kandivli, say residents.

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Meanwhile, residents of Lokhandwala suffer deadly traffic snarls at the entry point to the township, as approach roads are narrow. It sometimes takes close to an hour for residents to reach the railway station or even the Western Express Highway, especially during peak hours. Residents of Lokhandwala Township have staged several protests against the BMC on the matter. Mathuradas Road and Akurli Road also witness heavy traffic jams, especially during peak hours. “Many families in posh areas such as Lokhandwala Complex and Thakur Village own more than one vehicle, leaving little or no space for parking. While many end up parking their vehicles on the roadsides, problem of double parking too plagues several areas. Travelling on Mathuradas Road is a nightmare as hawkers have not only encroached pavements but have also occupied part of the road on both sides, leaving a bottleneck for pedestrians and vehicles,” said Amrita Barot, an activist and resident of Kandivli.

There are also more than 60 open spaces in R South Ward, of which around 30 are under the BMC. These remain poorly maintained. Activists in the past have protested several times against the issue of BMC handing over maintenance of open spaces to caretakers. While the ward has a sizeable Gujarati and Marwari population, the large migrant population in the area has been a stronghold of the Congress for two decades. The Congress is the dominant party in the ward with six corporators out of a total of 11 electoral wards.

Three corporators are from the BJP and the remaining two are from the Shiv Sena. However, the BJP has a strong and growing presence in the ward – MP Gopal Shetty and MLAs Atul Bhatkhalkar and Yogesh Sagar are from the BJP. Prakash Surve of the Shiv Sena controls some parts of R South Ward too. “The old residents of Kandivli have firm faith in the BJP and that trust factor will never change. Apart from that, we have been working with youngsters in slum areas. Recently, we had built public toilets and on the roof of these toilets we created study rooms with computer facility. Our representatives have been time and again raising issues in the civic body,” said MLA Yogesh Sagar.

After the delimitation, the electoral wards in R South have increased from 11 to 13 for the 2017 elections. “For years, the Congress has had a majority of representatives from R South Ward. This time, our six seats will increase to eight,” said sitting corporator Ajanta Yadav. However, political observers claimed the distrust towards the ruling BJP appears to have sharpened in the aftermath of demonetisation. Denying the claim, Sagar said, “I think we will have more representatives in the BMC as compared to 2012. Demonetisation has irked only those who advocate black money, the honest public will vote for transparancy.”

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