After the Western Express Highway, Swami Vivekanand (SV) Road which runs from Bandra to Dahisar Check Naka serves as an important link to the western suburbs. However, the Free Press Journal found that encroachments and illegal structures that have mushroomed along this road are creating hurdles for the smooth movement of traffic. Even the footpaths have been encroached upon, making pedestrian movement extremely difficult. In fact, footpaths in some areas at Jogeshwari, Andheri, Malad and Borivali are missing so pedestrians are either forced to walk through a pavement congested with extensions of the shops or on the busy road itself.
𝗘𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘀
Footpaths along the SV Road at Andheri (West) are the most congested, with products being displayed outside the shops. As a result, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road. There are also a few stalls on the footpath along SV Road near the BEST bus station at Andheri (East). The same situation is seen at Jogeshwari (East), where stalls have encroached on the walkways at some locations.
The station road at Malad, which acts as the primary link between the railway station and SV Road, is severely encroached upon by hawkers and shopkeepers, narrowing down the entire stretch and making vehicular movement extremely difficult. The BMC had demolished unauthorised alterations to shops two months ago, but some encroachments still remain. Removal of these structures has increased the road space and should have brought respite to commuters. However, the hawkers are returning and taking over the road once again. The situation in Borivali east and west is also the same. Even the bus stop near the office of the deputy police commissioner (Zone-II) hasn't been spared, causing an inconvenience to commuters waiting for a bus.
"The rampant illegal parking and encroachment is adding to the traffic woes in the city. If the main roads are not kept free of encroachment then how will traffic move? The beautification of Andheri-Kurla Road has made it convenient for illegal hawkers by giving them more space. There is a lack of political will to impose stringent laws and also civic officials have apathy towards the issue," said Godfrey Pimenta, the founder of WatchDog Foundation.
Mansoor Darvesh, member, Passengers & Traffic Relief Association (PATRA), said: "The SV Road and Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road at Jogeshwari (West) do not have footpaths. We had requested civic officials to visit and inspect the road to know about the hardships faced by pedestrians walking on the side of SV Road from Amboli BIT Chowki near Jogeshwari station to Millat Hospital and school."
"The SV Road in Malad (West) is completely encroached on by illegal stalls and shops have also extended their limits and come onto the footpaths. This has resulted in limited space for citizens to walk on footpaths and also leads to traffic congestion during peak hours. There are political people involved in these illegal encroachments and therefore the BMC overlooks the issue and hesitates to initiate action against the offenders," said Vinod Gholap, chairperson, Fight for Right Foundation
Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant municipal commissioner, P/ North, reacting on the complaints, said: "We are aware of the hawker menace and have taken action in December on the illegal alterations by shops. We are working on a long-term plan. Meanwhile, we are planning to initiate more action over the next few days. You will see the change within the next 30 days."
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