In 2011, a few resident members of the Lions Club of Bombay (Kalina) came together to form the Voice of Kalina (VoK). At that time, like-minded qualified professionals, engineers, retired managers and CEOs volunteered and joined this crusade of civic and residents’ issues affecting us in Kalina and its surroundings. VoK was greenlighted by then Mayor, Sunil Prabhu.
With this formal beginning, the team worked unitedly and took up civic issues with the BMC, the Mumbai Police, MHADA, MMRDA, BEST, electricity providers to solve the residents’ issues. In the meantime, their members who are evenly spread in all the areas of Kalina gather information from the residents by goodwill and interaction and keep a vigilant eye on development works and construction so that nothing is amiss. With this, they caused activism, which has drawn residents to VoK.
When the group began their work a decade ago, some major infrastructure projects were under execution. They were inordinately delayed, and the authorities and elected representatives took no initiative to complete and see the projects through. Finding these projects sensitive to the needs of the residents, VoK took them up as a challenge. Here are a few project’s VoK is currently working on:
Mithi River Bridge: This bridge has become popular for the wrong reasons. A simple bridge approx 250 ft span is taking 10 long years to complete. VoK’s inner findings reveal that it would take another two years to complete this bridge and begin operation. Using this bridge for city traffic from East to West and vice versa would save a lot of time and fuel costs (increasing with every breath we take.)
Kalina Market: Over the years, the revamping of this place has faced unprecedented delays. The old shed-type market was demolished to make way for the ‘Super’ market. However, much to the frustration of the residents and stall owners, its status remains incomplete. When VoK took up the issue in 2016, they learnt that the Collector of Mumbai had claimed the land on which the market was built. The group approached the then MP Priya Dutt, who took it up with the Collector, arranged a meeting with the then Revenue Minister. Instructions were given to hand over the land to BMC and complete the formalities within 24 hrs. The building’s construction is completed, but it is entangled in a dispute with the contractor/developer.
Talao Area Now A Garden Complex: This 7.5 acres of land mostly belonging to the residents of Kolovery Kalina was acquired by the BMC as a green area of the DP. But the development plan got stuck, leading to encroachments. VoK repeatedly had to bring this to the notice of the authorities to stop the vandalisation of the area.
There was already a High Court ruling that the water body, which was the existing sweet water pond, should be restored. Owing to pressure from VOK and the locals, the then MLA and BMC Corporator prevailed on the Garden Department to take up the work and complete it. VoK is now trying to get the concerned authorities to build basic amenities like toilets and a drinking water area in the garden.
Key few issues VoK is working on with the BMC and other authorities:
1. Illegal construction, encroachment, and misdoings of the land mafia.
2. Clearing the footpaths of hawkers and encroachers.
3. Removal of banners from the roads of Kalina.
4. Organising street sweeping and cleaning campaigns.
5. Taking up issues like garbage pile up and disposal, water shortage in different areas, water logging during heavy rains, etc.