Residents punished for voicing concerns about encroachments

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 - 7:05am IST | Agency: DNA

A residential society in Borivali east was punished by the civic authorities for raising their voices against the apathy of BMC babus. This happened after the residents took up the issue of illegal encroachments in their area, which has shrunk the 60 feet DP road to 35 feet and is also obstructing the new drainage line. Residents alleged that BMC officials took it as a threat of getting exposed on other issues related to road widening work and broke the entrance of the society as a punishment.

Civic officials also ensured that slum dwellers were told 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 were threatened with dire consequences.

Residents of a few societies next to Abhinav Nagar in Borivali east have been following the issue since two years, with civic officials passing the buck to different departments and refusing to take responsibility.

Residents claimed that the roadwork between Kajupada bus stop and Kajupada masjid is not happening as per the sanctioned plan. The road sanctioned is 60 feet but the actual size has shrunk to 35 feet due to several encroachments, though no effort has been made to demolish the extensions. At one area, the encroachment is on the drain and civic engineers have designed the curve to accommodate the encroachment.

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 claim that their hands are tied.

A resident said, "This road once done, is not going to be taken up for next 20 years. It is already too narrow and slum dwellers occupy the additional space for parking, dumping debris, drying papad, tying goats to the bus stop and children play on the road. We were told, before the elections, that once the elections end, 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 road."

Assistant Commissioner V G Bole has sent several notices to the encroachers; however no 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 Right to Information were not responded to. When residents insisted on action, civic officials dug up the entrance of Girishikhar Co-operative Housing Society, thereby inconveniencing them.


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