Mumbra takes back its spaces

1,196 encroachments on 3 km stretch razed in a day; locals elated that traffic bottlenecks have been now removed, hawkers worry about their livelihood

A collective sigh of relief went through Mumbra on Wednesday as 1,196 illegal structures were demolished in a massive drive.

Thane Municipal Corporation chief Sanjeev Jaiswal (brown cap) with Thane police commissioner Parambir Singh and other TMC officials
Thane Municipal Corporation chief Sanjeev Jaiswal (brown cap) with Thane police commissioner Parambir Singh and other TMC officials

Hawkers had encroached on the 3-km stretch from the Mumbra railway station till Shimla Park. Vehicles parked there further restricted the smooth flow of traffic.

Illegal structures being demolished
Illegal structures being demolished

The man of the hour — Thane Municipal Corporation commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal aka ‘Demolition Man’ — took help from the police to carry out this operation. He also warned that future encroachments would invite tougher measures.

“It was a very important and a successful drive which will ease traffic woes for people. It is usually seen that after demolitions, people again encroach upon the same place. But this time, we have deployed our officials, who will keep a check on keeping the area free of encroachments,” said Jaiswal.

The demolition drive, which started at 10 am, was a part of the civic body’s development plan (DP). Seven different teams that were headed by the assistant municipal commissioner and two others headed by each deputy municipal commissioner carried out this drive, along with 250 police personnel. Parambir Singh, Thane police commissioner, also deployed the State Reserve Police Force and riots control police.

“The locals helped us in the demolition drive and it went very peacefully. The civic corporation and the police coordinated successfully,” said Sachin Patil, deputy commissioner of police (zone 1), Thane.

The structures that faced the wrath include 182 iron sheet, 158 RCC and 182 temporary structures, four timber markets, 456 temporary hawkers sheds, 68 chicken and fast food outlets, 64 auto garages, 80 tea stalls and two containers. Apart from easing traffic, the initiative also increased the marginal space between roads and buildings.

“Illegal encroachments ate up around 17-22 m of the road. We aim to now increase the space to 45 m,” said Sandeep Malvi, public relations officer, Thane Municipal Corporation.

Arif Nawaz Iraqi, a Mumbra-based activist, said, “The drive will solve the traffic problems, but the authorities have taken away the jobs of daily wagers. How can they earn their livelihood now? There were two demolition drives carried out earlier, too, but this time, it was a huge one. Instead of 50 m, they took away more than that.”

Resident speak
Nilofar Sayed, a resident of Kausa who works with a Mumbai-based firm as a sales executive, said, “I am happy. During peak hours, it sometimes took almost an hour to reach the station. Autorickshaw drivers refused to give us a ride due to heavy traffic.”

Anis Fodkar, a Mumbra resident, echoed Sayed’s sentiment. “I preferred walking than driving my car. The worst situation is witnessed during Ramzan, when hawkers encroach most of the space. In case of a medical emergency, a patient would die waiting to get to the hospital,” said Fodkar.

Hawker speak
Waseem Sayed, the owner of Delhi Zaika restaurant in Mumbra, said, “The proposed plan was to demolish 50 m of structures on each side. I lost my shop and received no compensation from the authorities. How will we earn now?”

His shop was established in the 1990s and he had lost 50% of his shop to an earlier demolition drive.

On for last six months
The road-widening project, a part of the DP, has been going on for the past six months.

“We will complete the project before the monsoon arrives. Most of those affected by this project are being rehabilitated either in rental houses or under the BSUP (basic services for the urban poor) project. We will see 
to it that every one gets a proper flat. To date, we have been able to rehabilitate more than 200 people,” said Thane Municipal Corporation commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal.

Phase 2 of the project will be carried out after the monsoon.

“This phase will include construction of new roads or connecting links of new roads. Also, new saplings will be planted in place of those trees which were demolished,” said Jaiswal.

Aiming high
Areas being covered under the road widening project:
Ghodbunder road
>> Pokhran road number 1
>> Kapurbawadi-Balkum road
>> Kalwa and Manisha Naga
>> Thane station road
>> Khopat
>> Teen Hath Naka
>> LBS road
>> Anand Nagar in Wagbil 
>> Pokhran road

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