A residential society in Borivali East has been punished by civic authorities for raising their voices against the apathy of BMC babus. This happened after the residents demanded removal of encroachments in their area which have not only narrowed a 60-foot wide road down to 35 feet but are also obstructing the new drainage line that is being laid. Residents allege that BMC officials saw it as a threat, fearing they would be exposed on other issues related to the ongoing road-widening work. Therefore, they went on the offensive and dug up the entrance of the society in order to discourage its members who have been fighting for implementation of the road plan in toto.
Not just this, civic officials also ensured that slum dwellers were duly informed about who complained against their illegal structures, which has now posed a threat to whistle-blowers. The residents who took up the issue were confronted by the slum dwellers and threatened with dire consequences.
Residents of a few societies next to Abhinav Nagar in Borivali East have been following the issue for the past two years now, with civic departments passing the buck to one another and refusing to take responsibility.
Residents claim that the road work between Kajupada bus stop and Kajupada masjid is not happening as per the sanctioned plan. While sanctioned width of the road is 60 feet, on the ground it has shrunk to 35 feet and even less at places due to several encroachments. Despite several complaints, the civic body has made no effort to pull down the extensions. At one place, the encroachment is on the drain and civic engineers have systematically designed a curve to accommodate the illegal extension.
At another place on the same road, the illegal extension of a structure is so blatant that the entire road line is disturbed. The owner of the structure claims to be a relative of a local politician and BMC officials say that their hands are tied.
At yet another place near the Kajupada bus stop, the drain work remains incomplete as it came straight to hit a wall. Here, the drain cannot go further unless the illegal structure is removed from its way or civic engineers make the drain take a 90 degree turn.
"Once done, work on this road is not going to be taken up for the next 20 years. It is already too narrow and slum dwellers occupy whatever space is there by parking their vehicles, dumping debris, drying papad, tying goats to the bus stop and letting children play. Before the elections, we were told that once the polls get over, all encroachments will be removed. However, now you can see that the drain is being dug on the existing road, thereby making the road even smaller than before. BMC officials and contractors are in a rush to finish the work," said a resident.
Assistant commissioner VG Bole has sent several notices to the encroachers but now follow-up action has been taken. "Removing encroachments is not our work. We had requested the ward officer several times in the past, but nothing was done. We have to follow our deadline," said a senior engineer from the road department responsible for the work.
Queries filed under the Right to Information Act were not responded to. When residents insisted on action, civic officials dug up the entrance of Girishikhar Co-operative Housing Society, thereby inconveniencing them.