By Dhruv Johri & Mohamed Thaver
As one steps out of the Kurla station towards the east, there is an ensuing chaos — from shop owners selling snacks right outside the railway exit bridge to the auto drivers occupying almost half the road waiting for customers. The straight road that stretches from the Kurla railway station right upto Chembur is named after Sadashiv Govind Barve, a Member of Parliament from this constituency, bureaucrat and an author. Barve lovingly called Sa Go Barve is, in fact, credited with being the creator of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).
Arvind Ganacharya, former professor in the University of Mumbai’s history department said, “Sa Go Barve was one of the most respected bureaucrats in the country. He was well-known as one of the most high-ranking officials in Delhi circles as well. Eventually, he went on to contest Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket from the Mumbai North East constituency in 1967. In fact, he was one of the first politicians who started the practice of breaking a coconut at the Siddhivinayak temple in central Mumbai before he started campaigning. This practice was later followed by several politicians. He also authored several books.”
Veteran journalist Bharatkumar Raut said, “A few years after Maharashtra was formed as a state, Y B Chavan, the then chief minister brought Barve into politics and made him the finance minister of Maharashtra in 1962. He was later made the industries minister, the department that he loved the most. He is the single-handed creator of the MIDC, the first state-owned industrial corporation across India. In 1967, he contested on a Congress ticket and defeated V K Krisha Menon who fought as an Independent. Unfortunately months after winning the seat, he suffered a heart attack and died.”
Taking a stroll down the S G Barve Marg, one finds farsaan shops punctuated with local street vendors preparing for the final few days of Ramzan. The road features an intriguing visual juxtaposition, rows of small shops form a boundary wall of sorts for towering Slum Rehabilitation Authority buildings that have come up in the last few years close to the station. The newer buildings stand in contrast to the rows of shops and old structures along the road. The road that stretches from the Kurla station is surrounded by shops and restaurants on both sides. The junction where the S G Barve road meets the Eastern Express Highway often sees traffic snarls. The road further meets the Umarshi Bappa Chowk and goes on to connect to the R C Marg in Chembur.
However, only a few people on the road are aware on the personality the road is named after. Stationary shop owner Babu Chandola said: “While this road is called S G Barve, we identify the location of our shop as Nehru Nagar alone.” Babu, whose family has run their shop for over 30 years, added: “Nehru Nagar comprises mostly Muslim population. People from other communities too, especially those who have shops in the area, have been living here for the longest time.”
A few years back Nehru Nagar had been in the news when in 2010, three girls were raped and murdered within a span of a few months. Kishan Gode, a local tailor who has been running his shop for 20 years, said “temporarily they (the police) had increased their presence in the area. However, after a little while, the extra deployment of forces gradually stopped.” While the police had solved one of the cases, two others still remain unsolved to this day.