Thane: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has finally taken up the much-awaited repair work of a 10-km-long stretch of the Old Agra Road from Balkum to Bhiwandi after repeated follow-ups by Thane-based social activist Sneha Singh. The stretch along the road that was once a national highway has been neglected by various state agencies including the public works department, the MSRDC and the MMRDA.
Iqbal Shaikh, secretary general of NCP's Mumbai minority department, said, “This is a decade-old issue. However, the work was taken up after five months of constant follow-ups by social activist Sneha Singh. Many vehicles have turned turtle or bikers have lost their balance due to the uneven road. Citizens are happy seeing the repair work has finally begun.” According to Mr Shaikh, Bhiwandi is an important logistical hub which has been paralysed by the poor network of roads that connect with Thane City.
“Local residents and forums have in past protested against the authorities. Now Kalher, Purna and Rahnal areas are finally seeing road repairs which have been pending for years,” he said, adding that he visited Bhiwandi recently and was astonished to see the ongoing road repair work, thanks to Ms Singh's efforts.
Meanwhile, local social activist Roza Shaikh said no MPs or MLAs in the area have bothered about repair of the Old Arga Road. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member from Bhiwandi, Mujeeb Hareen said, “Despite having so many companies and warehouses in the area, the authorities have neglected Bhiwandi for the past two decades. I am pleasantly surprised to see real development in Bhiwandi, that too because of a Thane-based social activist. Hats off to her!”
Local freelance journalist Navin Abdullah said, “I had in past tried to convince the Vyapari Mitra Mandal of Bhiwandi to raise their voice against the MMRDA but they refused saying it's useless to ask for better roads. Thanks to Ms Singh for fighting for the rights of people in Bhiwandi.”
According to Thane resident Ranjit Gupta, the roads are bumpy and full of dust. “When you enter Bhiwandi it looks like a village. But it has become better since the concretisation of main roads. Hope the MMRDA completes this work quickly as it is causing traffic jams.”
According to Ms Singh, she was well aware of the road conditions in Bhiwandi which were deteriorating by the day. “I took this as a challenge and tried my best to get the road repaired. Mr Shaikh of NCP was the first to tell me that my efforts paid off. I thank my team and local residents for collaborating in the fight. However, this is not the end. The same stretch has inadequate streetlights which MMRDA needs to address.”
A regular commuter on Old Agra Road, Hrishikesh Khose said, “We appreciate the work being taken up. However, the MMRDA is infamous for delaying projects. The speed of work is not good. Wonder when they will complete this 10 km stretch. Perhaps in 2030!”
Meanwhile, Mumbra resident Karan Purohit questioned, “What about Balkum Naka and the Kasheli Bridge area? The authorities are playing a blame game here. MMRDA says the road at Balkum Naka is of the state PWD and the state PWD says it's MMRDA's responsibility. We just hope the road gets fully repaired by at least next monsoon.”
Majiwada resident Vivian Sharma wondered when the NHAI and MSRDC will start road repair and widening work on the Bhiwandi Bypass Road which runs parallel to the Old Agra Road but bypasses Bhiwandi city towards Nashik.
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