By: Neha Kulkarni
A quick turn from the breezy Carter Road leads to Sherly Rajan Road. Walking along the bylanes of this peaceful settlement, one will be introduced to the Malla-Sherly Rajan gaothan, tall buildings of the Rizvi Complex and also some old houses standing strong for decades. It is a close-knit community here, each one familiar with every other resident by name.
But the peace of this gaothan, a village-like settlement with most residents belonging to one community, has been disturbed in recent weeks by news of alleged errors in the new draft Development Plan 2034 of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The draft DP shows roads right across some houses and compounds of residents.
While residents of Pali Hill nearby had already expressed their opposition against the area being declared a residential-commercial zone in the proposed plan, residents are now also opposing the BMC’s move to build six new roads cutting across Pali Hill and connecting the nearby Sherly Rajan Village.
Claira Cardoz, one of the residents at Rizvi Complex, fears they may have to vacate the house if the proposed roads are really built. The Cardoz family, residents of the house since 1963, do not want to be subjected to noise and congestion in the name of development. “The draft DP shows an additional road, which will be constructed right over our house and would join the Nargis Dutt Road, behind our house. We may have to vacate without any assurance of rehabilitation. We have already expressed our opposition through community protests.”
Ryan Cardoz, her nephew, adds, “We cannot live peacefully when such a sword is hanging over our heads.”
Just behind the Cardoz residence lives the Tellis family who also fear they will be victims of the road construction. Tony Tellis, claiming his family to be the inhabitants since 1954, says the road is unnecessary. “Our opinion should have been taken into consideration before having resolved to draw this road,” he says.
However for Oscar Cardoz, this is nothing new. The previous development plans, he says, too showed erroneous construction of roads through their compound. He says that it is only through their constant protests by submitting objection letters to the BMC time and again that they have survived so many years.
The draft development plan (DP) 2034 had also invited the ire of Pali Hill residents with 2,000 objection letters being submitted to the BMC against a road shown in the heritage building of St Anne’s Church.
Anthony D’Souza, another resident who was one of the first to raise this issue, said, “Satellite data recording has only managed to mark some faulty requirements of roads in our Sherly-Rajan Gaothan. The roads, if built, will erase the sanctity of our enclave and will only add to more traffic and congestion. The survey needs a revision.”
Madhu Poplai, secretary of the Pali Hill Residents Association, also alleges massive error in the formulation of the entire DP plan, “There has clearly been no physical survey done by the BMC officials.”
Though the BMC is currently in the process of receiving suggestions and objections from citizens till April 24, the protests demanding scrapping the DP have already begun to fill the air. The decision now lies with the corporation, and the residents of Sherly Rajan are awaiting an answer.