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Civic amenities,connectivity elude industrial hub of 8 lakh residents

K West,the most-populated ward is a hub of commercial and industrial activities.

Written by Sharvari Patwa | Mumbai |
January 24, 2012 12:21:21 am

K West,the most-populated ward is a hub of commercial and industrial activities. While part of the ward is dotted with glass-tinted multi-storey offices of major corporates,the industrial hub MIDC-SEEPZ,Saki Naka industrial belt,slums and SRA projects cover up the rest.

The ward covers 23.5 square kilometres,with a population of over 8 lakh and an additional day-time floating population of two lakh.

While there are more than 250 storage,manufacturing and processing units in this industrial belt,there are over 100 small and big slum pockets in the locality,some of which have been turned into huge SRA projects,according to civic officials.

“The increase in number of slum development projects and commercial complexes is putting pressure on civic amenities. Also,due to the ongoing Metro rail work,the existing infrastructure gets damaged which is not repaired on time,” said Clive Dais,Congress corporator from K East.

While traffic congestion on the Andheri -Kurla belt is a nightmare for commuters,the roads in Saki Naka,SEEPZ,Marol,Mahakali Caves Road,Chakala and Subhash Road are pothole-ridden. The ongoing Metro (Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar link) work on the Andheri-Kurla road has added to traffic woes.

“While the MMRDA is supposed to be digging the road only for laying of pillars for the Metro,the roads on both sides of Andheri-Kurla have been dug up at some places,damaging sewer lines,drainage and water pipelines. The BMC and MMRDA keep blaming each other and as a result,the situation gets worse,” said James John,coordinator of Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) for Andheri,Jogeshwari and Parle.

The Mumbai International Airport and the Western Express Highway push up vehicular traffic both ways in this ward.

The much-awaited Milan Subway ROB,which is to be constructed between Santacruz and Vile Parle to provide east and west connectivity,decongest traffic,improve local railway speed and ease pedestrian movement,has seen various hurdles.

The construction of the bridge has been delayed due to various reasons including rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected persons,permission from Railways and political pressure from both Congress and Shiv Sena corporators over removal of a madrasa in the area. The project,which began in 2008 and was scheduled to be completed in June 2010 and later in 2011,is now expected to be completed in 2012.

The much-hyped Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR),in the ward,has also not been able to live up to its promise to provide fast east-west connectivity. The peak-hour traffic takes about an hour to flow between the end points,while the plan was to reduce it further.

The talks to construct a bus rapid transit system ( BRTS) to further shorten travel time are yet to reach the decision table.

The delay in completing other major infrastructure of Metro rail corridor has further worsened the woes of residents and commuters. The Metro work was expected to be finished by 2011,but now the deadline has been further extended to mid 2012.

An increase in slum development projects and mushrooming commercial complexes has affected civic amenities. The ambitious project to rehabilitate more than 85,000 families who have encroached the airport’s 276 acres of land is also moving at a slow pace causing additional burden on existing civic amenities.

After the 50 per cent reservation for women in the upcoming civic elections,this is one of the major wards which will be affected as 11 of the 15 sitting councillors have lost their seats to women reservation.

The ward has seen a heavy presence of both Shiv Sena (seven seats) and Congress (six seats) during the last five years. With the reservation norm kicking in,both parties are now trying hard to retain the existing seats even as they try to find women candidates to contest from these reserved wards.

“Due to reservations,all parties are finding it difficult to find women candidates in this ward. Most of the corporators are fielding their wives for the seat. This might create a shift in the political scenario after elections,” said Dais.

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