Although A Ward is spread across 12.5 sq km, with areas as diverse as Colaba and Cuffe Parade and the slums of Geeta Nagar and Colaba Dandi, the problems are similar — garbage disposal, broken or missing footpaths that have been encroached upon by hawkers, overgrown trees that haven’t been trimmed, and parking issues.

Problems specific to certain areas include the presence of alleged drug peddlers and beggars, the lack of permission for building repairs in old structures, overflowing gutters and the lack of public washrooms.

Footpaths taken over by hawkers and overgrown trees, which are seldom trimmed, are two major problems for A Ward residents, like this stretch at Colaba illustrates. Pic/Sameer Markande
Footpaths taken over by hawkers and overgrown trees, which are seldom trimmed, are two major problems for A Ward residents, like this stretch at Colaba illustrates. Pic/Sameer Markande

Main issues:
Garbage disposal: Residents claim that dry and wet waste segregation awareness is missing among garbage collectors. Many citizens claim that although they segregate waste at their buildings, it is collected in one bin by the BMC. When mid-day visited the area, there were very few dustbins and many were broken, with the cans removed, or missing.

Footpaths: The residents of the ward, especially along the Colaba Causeway, have been in a virtual war with hawkers, who they claim have taken over the walking space. When mid-day visited the spot, the footpaths had barely any space to walk on, with squatters selling their wares all over, paver blocks were missing and many places were covered with litter.

Elsewhere, near Flora Fountain, footpaths were dug without any cordons and electric wires were hanging from poles on the footpath.

Overgrown trees: This may not sound as a big problem at first, but residents said they live in constant fear of overgrown trees and untrimmed branches falling. They said the BMC officials do not take their complaints seriously, even though a large section of the ward lies along the coast and the sea breeze causes a lot of branches to fall.

When mid-day visited the area, we saw that many trees near the World Trade Centre, MbPT Garden, Oval Maidan, Khala Ghoda and Mahatma Phule market required a serious trim.

Expert speak

Subhash Motwani Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association's President

Subhash Motwani Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association's President

Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association's President Subhash Motwani said the solution to the main garbage challenge should be to create multi-lingual awareness about wet and dry waste.

“Dustbins need to be colour-coded. The BMC has a huge budget and should invest some money in this so that people recognise the colours before dumping garbage. Pople who litter and spit should be fined. Commercial stakeholders, hawkers and residents should all be involved in this.”

As for the footpath issue, Motwani suggested either a hawking plaza or a special hawker setup table. “The wooden makeshift stalls they have make it very easy for illegal hawkers to sit among the legal ones, which is the major problem in A Ward. If they are given licence numbers and special fiber glass tables, it will make matters better,” he said.

Officers should be made accountable for tree trimming, said Motwani. “There should be a time limit. If the officer does not deliver, s/he has to be pulled up. Perhaps, a day should be set aside as trimming day so that residents can alert the trimmers about trees that need to be cut.”