Mumbai: Over 500 citizens protested against the road widening project at Poisar in Kandivali west at 10 am on December 25, 2016. The protesters have alleged that the widening of Gamdevi Road by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will lead to destruction of the adjacent burial ground and cross which is a property of the nearby Our Lady of Remedy Church.

The Gamdevi Road is currently 20 feet wide and is proposed to be widened to 90 feet according to the road widening proposal of the civic body. The BMC issued a notice to the church authorities informing about the road widening project on November 22, 2016 while this case is still under trial in the Bombay High Court.

The protesters have also alleged that the civic officials are catering to the private interests of the builder Nayan Shah of a 32 storey building named Mayfair Greens which is situated adjacent to Gamdevi road. Ramsey Rebello, a resident of Poisar, told the Free Press Journal, “The Gamdevi road leading to the building is quite narrow thus residents find it difficult to access the building and therefore do not wish to purchase a flat there. The civic officials intend to cater to the vested interests of the builder by widening the road.”

Dolphy D’souza, spokesperson of Save Our Land (SOUL) organisation, said, “The road currently has a dead end as it leads to the rail tracks so where is the BMC planning to take this road after widening it? We want to know the expansion plan of the civic body as the burial ground and cross has been a property of the church for over 400 years.” The residents wrote a letter to the BMC on December 2, but haven’t received any response.

Ashok Khaire, deputy municipal commissioner of that zone, said, “The project is a part of the road widening initiative of the civic body and there is no vested interest. We have issued the church authorities a revised notice which does not include either the burial ground or the cross in the widening plan. If the residents still have a problem it will be difficult to reach a settlement.”

The protesters are not aware of any such notice being issued to them. D’souza added, “It is the High Court’s direction not to harm any heritage property and this burial ground and cross are well preserved heritage properties.” Hawkers, locals, residents and members of neighbouring churches participated in this protest with banners and placards displaying messages to save the land and preserve church property.

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