The Thane-Belapur industrial belt belonging to MIDC has turned out to be a no man’s land, thanks to the gross neglect by various authorities. Adivashi, who has written about the pathetic condition of the service road, has now encountered yet another major problem. Auto rickshaw drivers refuse to ply on meter charges. They have their own fixed tariff raging from Rs 50 upward. This meter is not valid here, say the auto rickshaw drivers.

What is even more astonishing is the fact that the traffic police or RTA officials seem to turn a blind eye to the issue.

Otherwise, how can you explain the fact that the three-wheelers zoom in and out of the belt without turning on the fare meters? They are neither stopped nor checked at any place. One finds it a bit odd that the traffic police, who halt two-wheeler riders and truck drivers for checking, do not bother about the auto rickshaws which carry passengers without turning the meter on.

Threatened with a police complaint, the drivers just smile at the passengers.

Flooding of roads and potholes continue to play havoc with the traffic in the belt despite repairs of roads. NMMC which collects property taxes from industrial units is supposed to maintain roads and sewer drains. But one witnesses hardly any semblance of maintenance in MIDC area.

Better late than never! NMMC officials have finally begun to act against debris mafia. Adivashi has been raising concern over the debris mafia recklessly dumping the rubble along the highway and Palm Beach Road, destroying the mangroves in the creek. In two different cases, the civic body’s anti-encroachment cell impounded 14 dumpers. Navi Mumbai has turned out to the dumping ground for contractors in Mumbai who transport their construction waste across the creek with no authority checking them. Hopefully, NMMC will continue to keep an eagle’s eye and arrest the menace.

The onset of the festive season brings a set of problems as well. For instance, NMMC and police permit Ganesh pandals on main roads and at parking lots. For instance, at Sector-16-A, close to the Board of Secondary Education office and St Lawrence High School one can see a pandal blocking half of the two-lane road. One wonders as to why a Ganesh Pandal cannot be put up in a ground where Dandiya is celebrated?

Meanwhile, rains have impacted the rush of devotees to various pandals dampening the spirits of organisers who have built models ranging from Suvarna Mahal to Kedarnath temple.

Some Ganesh Utsav mandals have notoriously become gambling dens. The police have woken up to the menace and have raided one such pandal run by rickshaw owner-driver association at Sanpada and picked up seven people and seized Rs 3,400. “We will keep a strict vigil on such gambling dens being run under the guise of keeping awake to guard the idols during the festival,” said Senior Inspector Shekhar Bagde.

Adivashi has challenged CIDCO and NMMC officials to travel on some roads to see for themselves the woes of the pedestrians. Now they seem to have acted on the Vashi-Kopar Khairane road that has emerged as one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city. This stretch has also become accident prone. NMMC has decided to construct foot-over-bridges at four places – Kalash Udyan, D-Mart, near Gulabsons Dairy and Teen Tanki – at a cost of Rs 13 crore. “It is nothing less than a challenge to cross the roads,” NMMC executive engineer Anil Nerpagar admits. This move is also seen by some as an election stunt since the proposed bridges fall under NCP MLA Sandeep Naik’s Airoli constituency.

One hopes that Nerpagar also looks at the busy crossings near vegetable market at Vashi’s Sector-9. Also, can we hope that the new FoBs do not turn into new hawker zones, like the one at Kurla railway station?

Talking of election issues, Ghansoli may soon get civic amenities. NCP Corporator Shivram Patil complained at the civic body’s Standing Committee that the node has been neglected with roads remaining in bad shape. CIDCO has been developing housing colonies here but the area does not have any semblance of a modern city. Congested roads and by –lanes, garbage and potholes are a common feature here. Responding to Patil’s complaint, municipal commissioner Abasaheb Jarhad said the corporation would take up works in the node if the committee approves. The committee subsequently approved Patil’s proposal.

That used-car dealers have been playing havoc with pavements in Vashi is well known and despite Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik’s instructions, the problem remains unresolved that too very close to his residence. Now, people from Kharghar have raised similar complaint against encroachment of space meant for pedestrians.

FPJ readers may recall that this columnist has written about the lack of response from the private sector to the 20 MW solar power station proposed by NMMC at Morbe despite the tender notices issued six times. The civic body has now decided to build it on its own at Rs 150 crores over eight years. The power generated from here will be supplied to the Maha DISCOM grid.

This is the 87th 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 at: mailbnk@gmail.com

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