South Mumbai’s B-ward may not have the SoBo vibe, but this is where the who’s who of the city flock to when they want to sample Ramzan delicacies at Mohammed Ali Road.
B-ward is home to 1.4 lakh people, who live in century-old buildings packed together with hardly any space in between. Many of these buildings are barely standing with the help of temporary repairs
But the land of biryani and falooda is plagued with its own problems, some as basic as the lack of clean drinking water.
Once known as the seat of the D-company, there is little left of those days in this ward now. Home to a predominantly Muslim population, B-ward spans across a modest 2.84 sq km but is densely populated. According to the 2001 census, a good 1.4 lakh people live here in century-old buildings that are packed into this small area, with barely any space in between. The narrow streets and footpaths are further choked by bustling wholesale markets and labourers pushing around loaded handcarts.
Residents complained that not only is the corporation irregular in collecting trash, the sweepers often leave piles of garbage on the street side instead of taking it away directly. Pics/Shadab Khan
There is very little regulation on buildings in this area, whether it comes to crumbling wooden structures that were built a hundred years ago, or the newer illegal structures that are now seen mushrooming across the ward.
Many of the older buildings are in a dilapidated condition and are potential fire traps. The buildings are wooden, two or three-storeyed structures with narrow entrances and wooden staircases. Add to that the loose electric wiring, short circuits and illegally-hoarded LPG cylinders, and it’s a recipe for a disaster like the Kalbadevi blaze last year.
The structural stability of these buildings is also questionable and many of them are standing on temporary repairs and scaffoldings. Temporary structural repairs have been done by tenants but they are all awaiting redevelopment.
Besides that, the ward also witnesses rampant illegal construction. mid-day had reported recently how a four-storey building in Dongri was extended to 11 floors without any legal permissions. Such buildings dot the entire ward and demolishing them is a task.
The buildings are packed so close together that there’s barely a couple of feet between them. These narrow gullies between the houses have become an easy target for residents looking to get rid of their rubbish. Over time, the trash accumulates and then begins to stink and also invites diseases. Residents have complained that civic workers do not clean these gullies regularly. When they do, the sweepers often leave piles of garbage on the street side instead of taking it away directly. Locals also complained that door-to-door collection of trash is not done on a regular basis.
Despite having legal, metered connections, citizens here have been deprived of clean drinking water. Not only do they get water supply for a very brief duration, the first few minutes usually yield dirty, discoloured water. In the short time that they do get clean water, resident have to clamour to get their fair share.
One of the reasons for the dirty supply is that the water pipelines run beneath the gullies between the buildings, along with the sewage pipelines. The pipes have leakages and contaminated water flows from one pipeline into the other.
Amin Parekh, General secretary of the NGO Seva
I have been living in this area for 50 years now. Earlier, people would not throw garbage out in the open but now they have gotten into this habit. About 80% people living here throw garbage in the open. If garbage is thrown in the gullies, the drains overflow onto the street. Or sometimes, the drinking water gets contaminated. The BMC doesn’t have adequate labour to tackle this problem. It is the people who should step up to create awareness in the matter. Also, the narrow gullies are blocked with a thousand handcarts, which are run by a syndicate of 3-4 people selling fruits, dates, etc. The other day, an ambulance was held up because of this.
Dr Shahid Shaikh
Resident of Imamwada
The ward office is aware of our drinking water problem. They have tried to find the leakage but have failed. The problem has persisted for at least 25 years now. By now, shouldn’t they have laid new pipelines? No corporator has been able to solve this problem.
Resident of Dontad Street
This ward has a large number of old buildings that need redevelopment, but a lot of landlords are not ready to go for redevelopment, while in other cases, the tenants are not ready to move out. The BMC keeps sending notices to the dilapidated buildings but MHADA and local corporators should work out a proper plan for the area. All buildings beyond a certain age should be redeveloped.
Resident of Murtaza Chambers
Cleanliness is a major problem in this area. The heaps of garbage in the gullies attract mosquitoes and flies, giving rise to diseases. These gullies are not cleaned regularly. Even pickup vans don’t come everyday. Only after we complain do vans come. Corporators should look into this.
Reident of Dongri market
The BMC is completely dependent on NGO labourers for work. That is a waste of money. Why doesn’t BMC hire it’s own labourers?
Resident of Dongri
The redevelopment of this area should be a priority. The landlords are to be blamed for the poor conditions of buildings. They don’t take initiative at times. But sometimes, even tenants aren’t ready.
Ahead of the 2017 BMC polls, mid-day presents a 48-week initiative for citizens to raise their neighbourhood concerns. You and your corporator are now face-to-face in the Big Civic Battle. If you wish to highlight an issue troubling your ward, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Areas: Dongri, Pydhonie, Imamwada, Mohammed Ali Road, Dontad Street, Musafir Khana, Victoria Docks, Bengalipura
Ward numbers and corporators: 221Gyanraj Nikam, 222 Waqarunnissa Ansari, 223 Javed Juneja
Population: 1.4 lakh
Area: 2.84 sq km