mid-day editorial: Don't ignore issues on your own turf

Recently, this paper had carried a report about the ‘high-rise’ shanties of Behrampada kissing the Bandra skywalk. The report on the vertical growth of these structures had an impact with the civic authorities ordering the demolition post monsoon.

Yesterday, this paper carried a report about Cuffe Parade residents citing alarm over unchecked growth at the Machi Maar Nagar slum in the area. They expressed concern over the slum’s vertical growth, pointing out that the 26/11 terrorists landed here first. Even more alarming, say residents, is the fact that tetrapods are being taken from Marine Drive, brought by boats by the fisherfolk and then used to line the shore. In that way, they are reclaiming land and expanding. The resulting ecological imbalance is creating flooding problems in the area. The Machi Maar Nagar residents of course, deny all allegations and say that everything is legal. The report quotes them saying that they are most vulnerable, as 26/11 showed, and they are taking care that they know everybody in the slum.

While that is expected, it is surprising that authorities and politicians are unaware about what is going on in their own area. In the report, Corporator M Narwekar says that he has not been to the slum, but if there are illegal encroachments, they need to be dealt with. K Dighavkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, A-ward, states that the slum is on collector’s land while the collector says there has been no complaint raised with her.

The answers show the rigmarole that is typical of the system. It is also shocking that nobody seems familiar with the slum or the area. Is there a reluctance to tackle the issue because slum dwellers are a vote bank? The tetrapod claim too is alarming, as this kind of mindless reclamation may simply mean altering the course of nature and could lead to large-scale ramifications. Leaders and civic representatives must familiarise themselves with the area to say the least. Investigations of claims can follow. To pass the buck, claim ignorance or decide to act only on specific complaints is specious. Know what is happening on your turf, and take action if needed.

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