All eyes have been on Thane, a city which has been in the news for its potholes and being Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s home and stronghold. Its new civic chief Abhijit Bangar, who took charge on September 30, talks about his vision for the city currently low on both infrastructure and cleanliness parameters. He said the city will be pothole-free by 2023 before the next monsoon.
What are the new initiatives that you have undertaken since you took charge on Sept 30?
First, we need to understand the problems faced by the people of Thane and then devise strategies. The first target is decongestion, for which a few projects are underway, while others are in the planning stage. Our work currently is to expedite the projects for timely completion.
Land acquisition would help expediting these projects, for one. Providing potholes-free roads is one part of decongestion. We will be able to achieve that before the 2023 monsoon.
Another is cleanliness, which is one of my objectives. Maintaining cleanliness requires doorstep collection of garbage and dumping correctly. We have started witnessing the results of this process in some areas, but there is a long way to go.
Apart from sustainable solutions, the scientific handling and processing of garbage is also very important. Another aspect I am focused on is providing toilets in slum areas as nearly 50% of Thanekars live in slums. Community and public toilets need water, ventilation, hygiene products and illumination.
What’s the aim of the committee constituted for the new railway station between Thane and Mulund?
The new station is needed because the existing ones are extremely burdened as nearly 50% of the city’s adults commute by trains every day. The work on the station started earlier, but couldn’t gain full speed due to a case pending before the honourable High Court. We have intervened and expect a positive outcome.
Recently, a Rs 100 crore fund was sanctioned by the state for Thane’s beautification. How will it be used?
The fund was sanctioned in February this year. The tender was floated in May and work order was initiated. This includes giving a unique identity to the city with wall art, which is unfortunately not taken seriously in the country. Other areas include restructuring seven entry points, white markings on roads with thermoplastic paint, illumination at some points to see how clean the city is. Cleanliness is the responsibility of both TMC and its people. We don’t keep our homes dirty; we need to have the same sense of pride for the city.
What is TMC doing to stop illegal constructions?
All modern cities are facing this menace owing to increase in population and migration. We have given a strict message to our assistant commissioners that they should not tolerate any unauthorised structures. Action will be initiated against anyone involved in such constructions.
It has come to my notice that in some illegal buildings only a few parts are demolished for optics but buildings get constructed nonetheless. In Yeoor, the hearings against illegal bungalows were conducted by the Upa-Lokayukta, which I attended online. I have asked for a factual report that will be submitted soon.
How do you plan to control measles, which is spreading in Thane, too?
We are trying all control measures to prevent loss of lives. For early detection, we are in the second round of our doorstep survey. Paediatricians have been provided to all TMC health centres to follow all clinical protocols and optimum treatment plans. The third important aspect is vaccination.
Many children haven’t received vaccination; besides administering doses, this requires convincing reluctant parents, too, through awareness campaigns.
The CM is from Thane, so is there pressure to complete work on time?
It’s always an advantage that the honourable CM belongs to your city; both to inculcate and invoke pride among citizens and vis-à-vis completion of projects.
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