Mumbai: Homeless Occupation Challenges Marine Drive’s Iconic Charm, Residents Struggle For Solutions

Mumbai: Homeless Occupation Challenges Marine Drive’s Iconic Charm, Residents Struggle For Solutions

Marine Drive police deny receiving any complaints from residents; roads transformed into living spaces for vending during the day and sleeping at night

Dhairya GajaraUpdated: Tuesday, February 13, 2024, 10:08 PM IST
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Mumbai: The residents of Marine Drive are facing difficulties while walking on footpaths due to the occupation of walking spaces by homeless people who have transformed the area into makeshift living quarters. Alleging a lack of coordination between the municipal corporation and the police, residents express frustration as the pavement dwellers persistently return each time they are evicted.

The neighbourhood surrounding one of Mumbai’s most iconic places is facing a challenge in providing adequate walking spaces for residents and the numerous daily passersby. Several footpaths along the routes linking Marine Drive to Churchgate railway station have been taken over by homeless families, turning the public spaces into impromptu living quarters. Roads such as VN Road, IMC Marg, and other thoroughfares connecting IMC Marg to Marine Drive have become encroached upon by these families, who engage in daytime vending and inhabit the same areas for sleeping at night.

"We can’t let this city look shabby"

Ashok Gupta, Vice President of Marine Drive Residents Association said, “Marine Drive is a signature area. The government is spending a lot on beautification works but these people have turned the area into a sorry sight. We sympathise with the people who are trying to earn a livelihood but we can’t let this city look shabby.”

Around 2013, after the Marine Drive promenade was refurbished, the Nariman Point Churchgate Citizen’s Association hired a private security agency to free the footpaths from homeless people. However, after a few years, the issue arose again as people started encroaching on the footpaths. Last year, before the inauguration of Jawaharlal Nehru garden, the BMC carried out a cleanliness drive around the garden and the police evicted all the homeless people from the area. Again in a few months, the footpaths are filled with such people.

Suneel M Bhatnagar, a resident said, “We understand that these people are finding a way of survival but it can’t be done while disturbing the social position of the area. At night, the footpaths turn into a place of shouting and drinking which disturbs the residents nearby. It has resulted in the insecurity of the residents.”

Residents complain to BMC, local police

Various residents have complained to the BMC as well as the local police but the residents allege that neither of the departments have been successful in evicting them.

Meena Mutha, a resident of IMC Marg said, “A lot of families have been illegally charging money from people who want to park their bikes at the IMC Marg. If someone denies paying the money, they are ready to take up a fight. I have been a victim of this.”

The Free Press Journal contacted senior police inspector, Nilesh Baghul, Marine Drive police station who denied any such complaints received by him.

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