Politics, the beast thwarting beautification work under flyovers

Mumbai: If Mumbai residents have very few open spaces and green havens in which to sneak a breather, blame it on the political bickering between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA). This bickering has now spilled over to the beautification project planned for the space under the city’s flyovers.

The BMC had planned a revamp of 23 such spaces. However, many flyovers, especially from Kherwadi to Dahisar, are under the MMRDA. The MMRDA is refusing to issue no-objection certificates (NOCs) for these projects and the work is stuck, claims a corporator.“The spaces under the flyovers are either encroached or utilised as illegal parking spots. These places become a hub for antisocial activities. The BMC had planned to convert these spaces into recreational parks for the residents of Mumbai. However, many of these flyovers are under the jurisdiction of the MMRDA, which is not issuing NOCs to the BMC,” said the corporator.

So far, work has only started under three flyovers, at Wadala, Mohammed Ali Road and Kurla (Amar Mahal). “The corporation is under the process of issuing tenders. However, many of them on the Western Express Highway are under MMRDA’s jurisdiction,” a civic official complained. Another corporator blamed the politics between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party as the cause for this situation.

“The BJP and Sena have recently joined hands for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. But, until recently, there was a state of uncertainty and the Sena had, on various occasions, criticised the BJP government over various political and economic issues. The MMRDA is with the state government and the state government is using the authority to block Sena’s development programmes,” said the corporator. If the two parties decide to contest the 2019 assembly elections together, then the BJP will be co-operative and hopefully, the MMRDA will give the NOCs, he said. No response was forthcoming from the MMRDA, office at the time of writing.

Under the beautification programme, the BMC has planned vertical gardens, pillar paintings, walking tracks, open gyms, small gardens and special lighting under these 23 flyovers. The total area under beautification is around 35,000 to 40,000 metres and the anticipated cost for this project is around Rs 15 crore.

Indumati Bhide, 73, a resident of Khar is upset over politics delaying the progress in the beautification work. “Unlike our times, there is hardly any open space left in Mumbai. My grandchildren sit at home watching television, as they have no open spaces to play. Even we have scarcely any place to take morning walks in the city. The places under the flyovers, if beautified, would have been ideal,” she says. However, olitics between the BMC and the MMRDA has played the spoiler yet again, she rued.

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