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College lines up flowerpots to tackle terror

KPB Hinduja College has adopted the measure, after getting permission from authorities, to stop illegal parking outside its premises; the institute says it wants to eliminate the chance of someone planting an explosive in one of the vehicles

It's perhaps safe to say that this is a gambit that has been employed for the first time as a line of defence against the threat of terror. A city college has placed forty-six flowerpots outside its premises to impede parking of vehicles in a nearby lane. KPB Hinduja College at Charni Road has adopted the measure after getting permission from traffic police and municipal authorities. 


Green cover! The flowerpots outside KPB Hinduja College near Charni 
Road station. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The institute says it has done this to limit the chance of someone planting an explosive in one of the vehicles. However, several students and daily commuters to the area are resenting the fact that the move has led to traffic congestion and lack of parking space in the locality. 

Blasts from the past
College authorities claim the ploy was espoused after the July 13, 2011 bomb blasts at Dadar West, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House. They say students were warned well in time not to park their bikes and cars outside the college that may potentially pose a threat to the institute or schools and hospitals nearby. Parents were also informed about the same before first year junior college began in September last year. 

But, apparently many students still continued parking their vehicles outside the college. Hence, after discussions with the local traffic police and the municipal corporation, the institute decided to deploy this line-up of flowerpots outside its premises.  

Taking pot shots!
Manish Bhayani begs to differ. The CEO of Tiktok Industrial Consultants Pvt Ltd has complained several times to BMC's local ward office claiming the flowerpots were causing a lot of congestion on surrounding roads. "The massive flowerpots have been occupying 1/3rd of the stretch, which always was very narrow. Apart from that there are garages that encroach upon a lot of space," said Bhayani. 

He added that it's been eleven days since the pots were positioned and despite the complaints nothing has been done. "The diamond merchants and students used to park their cars here. The entire road is chock-a-block throughout the day. A fire tender will find it difficult to navigate through this area. This is a catastrophe waiting to happen," said Bhayani. 

BMC speaks
When contacted by MiD DAY, assistant municipal commissioner of D-ward, P Masurkar, confirmed that BMC had indeed given the college permission to station the flowerpots. "We will check and take action against hawkers who are utilising the space. Also, we would talk to the college authorities and check if any problems are being caused by the move." 

He added that the college authorities had also taken the approval of traffic police. "Yes, there's a potential threat and that's why the college has taken this step. But if there is a problem, the flowerpots can be shifted somewhere else," he maintained.

Mixed feelings
Aditya Pawar, a student of KPB Hinduja, said, "St Teresa High School is next to our college. They used to face a lot of problems while moving their school bus in or out of the area because of the parking outside the college. It is a good move that the college has placed flowerpots. It is true that there is the possibility of anyone planting a bomb in one of the illegally parked vehicles. So the college has every right to do what it has done."

"If the college has placed the flowerpots for the safety of students and nearby institutions, then I appreciate their move. Also, planting trees is good for the environment," said Krisha Shah, a student of junior college at KPB Hinduja.

On the other hand, Shamak Jain, (name changed), another student of the college, said, "We have to face a lot of parking problems when we bring our bikes to college. Every college has parking space for students. But our college has taken that away from us." He added, "Earlier, parking was allowed at a space in front of the college on payment of Rs 5. But that facility too has stopped since the last few days after the flowerpots arrived."

College says
"St Teresa High School and Saifee Hospital are also adjacent to us. If students keep parking their bikes and cars outside the college, anyone can come and place a bomb in one of them and cause a lot of damage. We came up with this plan after blasts took place in three major places in the city last year. We have decided to do more beautification around our college now to avoid illegal parking that can put us in danger. BMC has cancelled the licence of a garage outside the college that was running illegally. So, we decided to place 46 flowerpots outside our premises, after paying Rs 8,000 as deposit to the corporation, so that there is no illegal parking problem around here. Students and parents were informed about the same. We encourage them to make more use of public transport," said T Shiware, principal of KPB Hinduja College.

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