The furrowed dividers meant to enhance the beauty of the city by becoming sowing ground for trees and plants have been turned into dumping trenches by advertisers who put up banners along them, as citizens of suburban Andheri have brought to the notice of the BMC. You may have noticed that the foliage planted in road dividers is drying up or absent, thanks to the negligence and self-serving ways of the advertisers, activists and residents of Andheri allege. Advertisers are supposed to grow and maintain plants in dividers by adding soil and regularly watering them. But they are filling the dividers with construction debris and waste, locals said. Further, the layer of soil lining the dividers is very thin, they added. Despite complaints to the BMC, which is responsible for monitoring the maintenance activity undertaken by advertisers, no action has been taken.
Mayur Patel, a resident of the area, says, “A couple of days back, I thought I saw workers filling up soil in the dividers at DN Nagar. When I looked closer, I realised most of it was construction debris and garbage. They were just covering it with a lean layer of soil. I complained to the K-West ward officials but nothing was done.” In other parts of the city, advertisers don’t even clean up the plastic and garbage bags thrown into the dividers.
“Are the advertisers getting their publicity done at the cost of cleanliness in the city? Is the BMC too busy to monitor the safeguarding of public property, even while planning to take Mumbai the Shanghai way?” asked an angry local refusing to be named. A few months back, activist Aftab Siddiqui had also complained to K-West and H-West ward offices, demanding action against advertisers who do not maintain the dividers. “The dividers in Bandra-Khar-Santacruz have begun looking good. Grass and shrubs have been planted here. The garbage is also removed regularly. But in Andheri, the condition is still bad,” Siddiqui said An official from the H-West ward office said, “We have been following up with them regularly. Whatever suggestions we get from residents, we try to incorporate them.”
Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone III) K Archrekar said, “I will look into the matter, and action will be taken against the perpetrators.” BMC’s standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said, “It is true that advertising agencies have been fooling us. The problem prevails in many parts of the city. They would be penalised after a check by the civic authority.”