Hiranandani Gardens in Powai was a sprawling and tranquil place. With an excellent layout, it was an ideal urban neighbourhood. But all that is going to become history. An old commercial complex is going to be pulled down to make way for a monstrous tower, which will attract hundreds of motorists and visitors on a daily basis and ensure that the decibel is on a par with Bhendi Bazaar. What is worrying is that despite strong protests from residents, many of whom are highly educated, the BMC administration is not willing to listen.
Ratan Sharda, a local resident and an RSS activist who regularly appears on TV channels explaining the Sangh’s viewpoint on a range of subjects, Debi Goenka, another resident and noted environmentalist, are among those in the forefront of the protest. Yet the civic administration is completely indifferent to them. A mass signature drive was conducted recently and it received good response from the residents. No political party is willing to come to their rescue. The only option left now for the residents is to initiate a public interest litigation, which will take its own sweet time to reach finality.
The question is: Should Mumbaikars move the honourable high court each and every time they have a valid issue. Why can’t the BMC bosses give a hearing to the protestors and take an informed decision?
Gateway To 2024
People throng the Gateway of India to welcome the new year on Sunday | Salman Ansari FPJ
Going down the drain
Wonder who gave the BMC the bright idea of pouring water on the streets to curb air pollution. Lakhs of litres of water literally go down the drains and the dust comes back again. In the process the roads become messy and unusable. Instead of this criminal waste of precious water, the civic body would do well to water the saplings it has planted all over. Most of them are dying because the local ward offices do not bother to water them. Improved green cover would certainly reduce air pollution and make Mumbai a liveable metropolis. But then who cares?
A tourist wasteland
Even though Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country, it hardly has any worthwhile tourist spots. A visitor to the metropolis can go to see the Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, Marine Drive... that’s about all. In the West they create tourist spots out of nothing. The zoo is in a pathetic shape. Except for the addition of the penguin pavilion it looks the same as it was decades ago. The BMC had an opportunity to expand it by acquiring an adjacent land. It did no such thing. The civic body is trying to set up a bird sanctuary. It floated tenders twice for that purpose. But the response has been next to zilch. All the spots mentioned above are perennially crowded, especially on Sundays. Thousands of people, mostly working class, crowd these spots as if there is no tomorrow. One can’t really blame them because that is the only entertainment they can afford.
At a time when even able-bodied young people are begging on the streets, it was heartening to meet Bhimrao and his wife Shobha, an elderly couple from Vitava, Thane. Bhimrao is sight-impaired, but neither he nor his wife are willing to live on the mercy of others. They support themselves by selling calendars and homemade goodies. You can spot them at Thane station (West), Platform 1, on most days. If you would like to purchase calendars or other items in bulk, you can call Bhimrao on +91 81083 39816. —Vidya Heble
Compiled by: S Balakrishnan