Gallery blocks Kala Ghoda footpath, BMC forced to act

Tired of their footpaths being encroached upon by shops, restaurants and traders, residents of Kala Ghoda finally ralliedin protest on Saturday, forcing the police and the BMC to take action against an art gallery that had allegedly blocked a footpath without seeking prior permission of the authorities. BMC officials removed hoardings and flowerpots that were blocking the footpath later in the evening. Gallery 7, an art gallery at Kalaghoda was hosting an event at their premises, where many eminent citizens were expected.

A BMC worker picks up one of the potted plants that was blocking the footpath at Kala Ghoda outside Gallery 7 yesterday. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

However, according to the cops, they did not take the permission of the authorities. The gallery owners had blocked the footpath on both sides of the store, making it impossible for the pedestrians to go from one end of the footpath to another. The gallery owners however, claimed all permissions were in place but due to the event happening at the last moment, the relevant documents were not with them when the authorities arrived.

With the gallery being situated halfway down the footpath, most pedestrians were inconvenienced as they had to walk a long way back, cross the road and proceed to cross over to the other side of the road. According to eyewitness accounts, there were huge hoardings of the gallery that blocked the way with a few dozen decorative plants making sure even a child couldn’t get through.

Berges Malu, a resident of Kala Ghoda who stays close to the gallery registered a complaint with the BMC and the cops on Saturday. “This is not the first time that is happening. I had registered a complaint with BMC in the morning. You cannot put up these plants and block the footpaths. This is public property,” he said.

A BMC employee on duty who had come to check on the complaint said, “When we reached the spot and asked the organisers for the permission letters, they failed to provide any. Since we too had not issued any permission to them from the A ward office, we removed all encroachments immediately.”

When contacted, Nicholas Sachdeva, the owner of the gallery, said, “We do have all the necessary permissions but because we were preparing for the event, we did not have the documents with us when the authorities came to check. We have always taken permission in the past too.” 

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