Citizen-activists in peak form reel under infrastructure crunch

Citizens of K West can take pride in being proactive about civic issues like segregation of waste,saving open spaces and removing hawkers by taking them up and ensuring they get due attention.

Written by Sharvari Patwa | Mumbai | Published: January 23, 2012 3:49:08 am

Citizens of K West can take pride in being proactive about civic issues like segregation of waste,saving open spaces and removing hawkers by taking them up and ensuring they get due attention. The citizens’ activism has succeeded to an extent owing to co-ordination among residents,advance locality management (ALMs) and civic officials.

The people of the ward are,however,not happy,as far as large infrastructure projects like the Metro rail work (Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor),the Milan Subway ROB,Barfiwala flyover work and JVLR flyover are concerned.

The delay in completion of these major infrastructure works has led to congestion on the roads,which see a busy traffic every day,leading to hardships for both residents and commuters. The Metro rail work has overshot its deadline of 2010. The Milan Subway railway overbridge (ROB) between Santacruz and Vile Parle is the only route to connect areas in east and west. The western express highway and the Mumbai International Airport,which is in this ward,ensure there is pressure on existing infrastructure.

“The infrastructure work dragging on has led to heavy traffic congestion on major roads. With major roads such as S V Road,Gulmohar Road,Link Road going through this ward,traffic is one of the biggest problems here,” said Ruben Mascarenhas,a resident and an India Against Corruption (IAC)activist.

Also,the much-needed widening of the arterial SV Road has been delayed as it has hit rehabilitation hurdles. The already burdened infrastructure has been bearing the brunt of increasing population for the past five years. Many cessed buildings in Andheri,Versova and Jogeshwari areas have seen redevelopment.

Apart from the 7.19 lakh as per the latest figures,the ward has about 60,000 floating population. A commercial hub for major offices,it houses headquarters and back offices of several big companies and is growing as a hub for the service industry.

The infrastructure has been unable to keep pace with this growth,or the growth in resident and migrant population,say activists and residents. Civic officials say there are 98 housing societies of which most will be redeveloped by the MHADA. The plan to redevelop more than 90 housing societies at SVP Nagar,Adarsh Nagar,Aram Nagar,D N Nagar under MHADA will mean a further increase in pressure on the infrastructure.

The ward with its posh areas of Juhu,Versova,Lokhandwala,where filmstars and famous personalities have their houses,is also home to an estimated slum population of over two lakh. Slum redevelopment schemes or the Dattak Vastak Yojana of the civic administration have not had much effect,in big slums such as Gilbert Hill,Nehru Nagar,Indra Nagar,Prem Nagar in particular,leaving the huge slum population with poor infrastructure and civic amenities.

“The large slum population that is growing has led to increase in water and power theft,too,” officials point out.

Residents tackle severe traffic congestion and air pollution throughout the year,but the situation gets worse in monsoon. The ward has 12 major flooding spots and vulnerable settlements like Koliwadas and Gaothans.

It was to ease waterlogging in spots like Milan Subway,areas near Vile Parle station and near Cooper Hospital,Sahar Road junction,parts of Santa Cruz (West) and Vile Parle (West) that over Rs 77 crore was spent on the Irla pumping station.

With citizen activism gaining momentum owing to citizen candidate platforms such as Mumbai Nagriksatta,Mumbai Nagrik Manch,Loksatta Party and Mumbai 227 taking part in the electoral process,sitting corporators from both Congress (which has 6 seats in BMC) and Shiv Sena (5 seats) will have to face a tough battle to retain them. Adolf D’Souza,the first citizen’s candidate corporator from the city,will contest again this time. There are likely to be over a dozen independent candidates like Juhu activist Sherley Singh.

K West includes areas from Andheri West,Jogeshwari West,Vile Parle West,Juhu and Versova. There are 13 corporators from the ward. The area is represented by two Congress MLAs and a Congress MP.

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