From Colaba to Kurla, we took ALMs and activists to check civic work ahead of the rains, only to witness glaring gaps
Garbage thrown by vendors and hawkers has made a mess of Colaba Market and added to residents' woes. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Every year is the same rain-(not)ready story, and this year is no different. If you've been left frustrated with a feeling that the entire city seems to have been dug up, you may not be completely wrong. That's because authorities are keeping up with the tradition of waking up at the last minute - carrying out monsoon-related work on a war footing as the clock ticks.
And what's even more frustrating, or funny, if your sense of humour hasn't been washed away, is that in spite of all these works, most of the spots remain the same, with the efforts doing little to make them ready for tackling the torrential rains the city has got used to. Here's a low-down on a few...
National College junction, Linking Road. Pic/Sameer Markande
Rains or no rains, this stretch has perennially sluggish traffic. But during the monsoon, there are a few pockets that get worse. "The Lucky Restaurant junction has always been prone to flooding and is one of the worst-affected spots," said Aftab Siddique, chairperson of Khar ALM 144, which was formed in 2006 and consists of 18 buildings in the H-west ward.
Another such junction is the one at National College. "For the last five years, the lane opposite the college, which extends till 32nd road, has been flooding regularly. Linking Road, too, has always been a slow-moving stretch during the rains and sees major flooding, with the water entering the shops at times," she added.
"Only last year the BMC sent its men to de-silt and clean the area; this year, it has outsourced it to contractors again, like every other year. This is the main drawback."
She also said that removed paver blocks on SV Road littering the side are going to cost Mumbaikars, come rains.
Old Agra Road. Pic/Shadab Khan
A patch on New Mill Road, from Canara Bank to Gold Building near Bharat Talkies junction, has been dug up. And this has irked locals even more as this particular stretch was laid just six to seven months ago.
"This road near Kurla station had finally been done up well after a long time. And now, it's been dug up again. What was the point of repair work then?" questioned Jeetendra Gupta, a citizen activist from the locality. He also pointed out how BMC's apathy towards using the latest technology is causing this problem.
"There is technology available, of keeping ducts under roads, so that if other necessary works surface after the road is laid, the specific area can be worked on immediately to put cables or pipes. The BMC clearly lacks long-term vision."
Slamming the civic body's delay in getting the city rain-ready, Gupta said, "It had kept May 15 as the deadline to stop road works. What happens to the ones that are dug up? The deadline should have been in March, so that there would have been a buffer period to complete the incomplete."
'The spots that have been seeing regular flooding for the last decade need to be taken seriously. Instead of hurrying and doing patchwork with a short-term goal, why not take up the responsibility well in advance? Road repairs is a money-making racket; if they aren't dug up for repairs every six months, how will the BMC make money?'
Colaba Market. Pics/Bipin Kokate
According to Rajindera Singh Bedi (84), a resident and member of the Trimarg Association, an ALM of 25 buildings in and round Colaba market, garbage and litter thrown by vegetable vendors and hawkers is the main culprit in dirtying the area during the monsoon.
"This also prevents traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) from moving around freely," he said. "A lot of senior citizens and children, too, come to the market, which is why it's even more important to keep it clean."
Another major hindrance, he added, one that is relatively new, is the laying of a new concretised road in the area. "The BMC has laid a new road here, but the work has been left incomplete. It's been a month… If not completed before rains arrive, this too could hamper traffic."
Other problematic spots include the road outside Gateway of India, which is found riddled with potholes every monsoon.
Lady Jehangir Road, Five Gardens, Dadar and (right) Nathalal Parekh Marg, Matunga. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Dug-up roads as well as footpaths are no longer just eyesores; they are now cause for concern. Unattended drain debris and pothole-riddled roads add to the list of residents' civic woes. Civic activist from King's Circle Nikhil Desai spoke about how there is no work being done on cleaning drains. "If they do de-silt and clean them, they just dump all that filth by the side of the road. If it's not taken away, it will get washed back into the same drains, eventually leading to clogging and flooding. The civic body is taking the taxpayers' money for granted. Why leave a task mid-way?" he questioned.
Near the Five Gardens area, on Lady Jehangir road, the stretch has been dug up. Near Dadar TT circle, the entire area is filled with potholes. "I have been complaining about it for the last three years. Every year, they say they will repair it, but so far, zilch!" he fumed.
Lokhandwala Circle. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Founder of Lokhandwala-Oshiwara Citizens' Association Dhaval Shah talked about one spot that had proved to be a headache for the residents every monsoon.
"The signal near the entry point of Lokhandwala Market (near Lokhandwala Circle) is one that gets affected every monsoon," he said. "The patch of road at the signal junction develops potholes and becomes a mini-swimming pool, causing inconvenience to motorists and pedestrians, as well as traffic jams."
According to him, the road adjacent to the Mercedes showroom in Shastri Nagar has also been a problem area for years. "Apathy of municipal authorities for these heavy traffic roads has been infuriating."
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