Imagine countless buses stopping every 10 minutes right in front of your complex gate and hordes of people waiting right there; and the crowd growing bigger and bigger with each passing day. Add to this the thought of being pushed and jostled, as well as being stared at; and even the prospect of getting almost run down by speeding BEST buses as you step out of your gate.
The root cause
Residents of Dhake colony in Andheri (W), who have been facing such problems for the last 40 days, have now intensified their fight against this menace in the last two weeks.
They allege that BEST authorities have removed a 52-year-old bus-stand, which stood about 100 metres away from the gate of the Dhake colony. That particular bus stop was one of the busiest bus stops in the area and used to cater to hundreds of commuters everyday as the stand was meant for several routes. On the other hand, the bus stop, which came up about two years ago at the gate of the Dhake colony, had buses scheduled for only two routes. As a result, very few buses used to stop there and that too after long gaps. The residents were thus not inconvenienced, as there was no jostling crowd or speeding buses.
“The authorities suddenly interchanged the functioning of the two bus stops. The older bus stand, which stood a little away from our home, was removed and very few buses use that stop these days, while the newer bus stop, near our gate, suddenly started catering to many routes. As a result, there is a big crowd right at our gate all day long,” said Anand Shirali, resident of the colony.
“It is an utter nuisance. People in the bus stop ogle at women, making them uncomfortable.
Members of our colony cannot freely move out of the gate as they used to,” Shirali added.
To make things worse for these residents, a shared auto-rickshaw stand has also come up in the same area, adding further to the chaos and confusion. Supplementing them are the hawkers and flower vendors, who encroach on the little space left, leaving absolutely no space for pedestrians.
“I feel scared to take out my little daughter out to that stop, but I have to as her school bus stops at the same stand. I try to come back to my house as soon as possible,” said Preeti Shirali. Twenty-three-year-old Nikita, another resident of the colony, says she feels awkward to go out of her gate, especially when she is dressed up for an occasion. “People standing at the stop stare, making women feel self-conscious and uncomfortable,” she says.
Along with women, senior citizens, too, are facing a lot of difficulties in their day-to-day activities.
There are instances of them being pushed by the overwhelming crowd as they try to get into a speeding bus. “The speeding buses can almost run over you. You have to run for cover to escape being hit. Then there is the fear of the crowd thoughtlessly pushing you in their haste to get their bus. It is a mess at the moment,” said AL Sachdeva, a senior citizen who stays in the colony.
However, residents are far from giving up and are fighting aggressively against it. They hope that once the metro starts, encroachments around their gate will be removed. Perhaps this aggressive stance taken by residents has prompted officials of the Oshiwara bus depot to promise prompt action. “Such kind of things have to be nipped in the bud, else they become permanent before anybody realises. We have written to the concerned authorities and they have promised us that required action in the next few days,” says Sachdeva.
Officials from the Oshiwara Bus Depot said the problem was because of some temporary arrangement. “We hope to sort out this problem in the next 10-12 days. Till that time, the residents will have to bear with us,” said Anil Chaudhary, senior traffic inspector of Oshiwara bus depot.