Adivashi has been writing about land grab and rampant unauthorised constructions in the City of the 21st Century! But this one makes the eyes pop out. It’s not a shanty or a small pan-bidi stall, but a huge six-storey building that has come up at Dighe, shockingly though, just behind the NMMC’s ward office, an RTI query shows. As though this is not enough, another six-floor building is coming, a little distance away, along the Thane-Belapur road, the RTI applicant Vishwadeep Jawre says. What is further shocking is that several slums have been developed into full-fledged buildings and flats sold at Rs 5 to Rs 6 lakh each. While the land grabbers made their quick money, the buyers of these tenements hope that their structures will be regularised. This brings back focus to the prevailing high price of houses in Navi Mumbai and the gullible home seekers falling prey to unscrupulous land mafia. What can one say if these buildings come up in broad daylight? Does the construction of such huge structures happen overnight? Meanwhile, the game of passing-the-buck among the authorities – NMMC, MIDC and CIDCO – goes on as the RTI query shows that 89 illegal buildings, 29 of them on the Collector’s Land, have sprung up at Dighe. This is only a tip of the iceberg that goes to prove how the officials apparently either connive with law-breakers or turn a blind eye to the mushrooming illegal construction happening all across Navi Mumbai.
Be that as it may, the Janata Market at Turbhe is in terrible danger as several unauthorised shops have come up in the area blocking the roads. Most of them clearly violate fire safety norms. Many are bound to die and get injured if a fire mishap takes place here. But none seems to be bothered.
Talking of constructions, the iconic NMMC headquarters off Palm Beach Marg is facing a peculiar problem with rats invading the building. Rodents thrive on mangroves in the close vicinity of the building and have a safe entry and trip through the civic headquarters. What can an ordinary citizen expect from the civic body when it is unable to protect itself from the pest menace? After trying out all methods like rat traps and pest control, now the civic officials plan a concrete compound wall around the building to check flow of rats. Need we say more on the so-called urban planning?
Among the major issues face by the people is the garbage and litter all over the place. Newly elected MLA Manda Mhatre of BJP has taken up the broom as part of PM Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign and visited the joggers’ zone at mini-seashore, Vashi, instructing the civic officials to clean up the place. She was obviously shocked to see garbage all over the place which attracts hundreds of fitness-minded people going for fresh air and exercises. Manda has given 15 days to the officials to spruce up the area.
Fish markets raise a stink. But the people in Panvel may soon get some relief as the Panvel Municipal Council has built a swanky fish market with 250 shops and proper water and drainage facilities at a cost of Rs 2 crore. Once the fish vendors move in, one hopes that the unauthorised fish market in the open will disappear.
Now let us turn to peculiar problems being faced by the residents of Kharghar. Liquor seems to be freely available in the education hub which has been declared as the only ‘dry zone’ of Navi Mumbai, thanks to a people’s movement. Some people from neighbouring villages bring liquor and sell them openly in street corners without any permit. In facts, no permits for either liquor shops or bars have been issued here under public pressure. Several complaints of bootlegging have been filed with the authorities with no visible action.
Kharghar people have also complained about sleazy spas that attract customers for massage and other ‘extra services’. The police have recently raided and shut down a spa conducting such extra services. But people say there are more such places which are functioning without the fear of the law.
The 1.7 km Kharghar skywalk is hardly being used by commuters who continue to dangerously cross the highway. Instead, the structure has emerged as an attractive place for love birds. So, do we say Kharghar houses a sky marine drive?
This is the 94th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted on: email@example.com
B N Kumar
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