Mumbai: In an act of frustration against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) perceived inaction, residents of Adityavardhan Raheja Vihar Road in Powai-Chandivali, along with members of the Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association (CCWA), took to the streets in protest on Wednesday morning. Their grievance centred on encroachments on the footpaths, a problem persisting despite previous complaints.
Protest Prompts Civic Action
Following the protest, BMC's L ward office swiftly responded to the situation. A bulldozer dispatched by the civic body demolished the newly constructed structure on the footpath. However, the protesters demanded a more comprehensive clearance of all encroachments in the area, emphasizing the need for permanent solutions.
Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association condemned the encroachments as part of a sinister ploy to seize land before an impending road widening project. He exposed what he termed a 'political business model,' where footpaths are encroached upon, leading to claims for compensation and then project delays.
A post shared by the Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association also stated that such tactics served as a fundraising method for political banners and hoardings at the expense of public amenities.
Residents Speak Out
Residents from Adityavardhan Housing Society, actively participating in the agitation, shared their concerns to Hindustan Times. They revealed how a nursery initially occupied the footpath, later joined by numerous shops and food joints. Recent days saw the construction of a shed, further encroaching upon the footpath.
V M Mohankumar, the housing society's chairman, described confrontations with those erecting permanent structures and their refusal to provide proper authorisation documents. Despite letters to authorities and social media exposure, the encroachments persisted.
BMC's Response and Future Plans
Dhanaji Herlekar, Assistant Commissioner of L ward, defended BMC's actions, citing the swift demolition of the illegal structure upon discovery. Meanwhile, BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal's budget speech this year had promised mapping footpaths for major roads, constructing concrete footpaths where absent and engaging urban road designers for this endeavour, allocating a budget of ₹200 crore for the initiative.