In the run-up to the Assembly polls in October, all three parties had set up ‘Free Wi-Fi zones’; but, the routers of the two Senas in Shivaji Park don’t work, and only one of BJP’s three connections in Borivli is functioning
After roti, kapda, and makaan, political parties had thrown their hat in the political ring by offering free Wi-Fi services in certain areas of the city. However, much like the earlier promises, all three parties Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have failed to keep up with this one as well.
Nearly all of their Wi-Fi hotspots in various parts of the city are non-functional. It was in July that the two Senas Shiv Sena and MNS clashed to claim credit for making Shivaji Park a ‘Free Wi-Fi’ zone (‘Sena vs Sena: Wi-Fi war in Shivaji Park’ July 16).
The stretch from the Ganesh temple to Samarth Vyayamshala was claimed by the Aaditya Thackeray’s Yuva Sena, while the area from Krishna Kunj, the residence of Raj Thackeray, to Sugee building and Café Coffee Day towards Prabhadevi, became MNS’s free Wi-Fi zone. The MNS even installed a router in Vile Parle (East).
Following this, the BJP installed three routers in Borivli: on Link Road from McDonald’s to Kora Kendra, Veg Treat restaurant near Shimpoli junction and Gorai creek. mid-day spoke to local residents and also checked on the connections to see how they were doing.
Six months later, people are still struggling to connect to the network. Most youngsters complained they could access the connection, but didn’t receive a confirmation message necessary to complete the connection. Multiple attempts by mid-day’s reporters to log on to the networks proved to be futile.
Sonali Patne says she has stopped trying to connect to Wi-Fi networks at Shivaji Park
Sonali Patne (35), who visits the area frequently, said, “I have tried too many times but could never establish the connection after its initial days. Though you can see two open connections, none of them are functioning,” said Patne. Like she said, our phones showed networks, I-ON@SPG (offered by Shiv Sena) and Shivaji Park Wi-Fi (MNS), but we couldn’t connect to the network.
Samadhan Sarvankar, an office bearer of Shiv Sena, said, “It’s actually a technical glitch of MTNL, the network provider. Apparently they have a router set up at Nehru Planetarium as well and it so happened that the same confirmation home page of the Shivaji Park Wi-Fi connection confirmation has been uploaded for Nehru Planetarium. So they are now working on the problem and it will be resolved shortly,” said Sarvankar.
When mid-day checked the routers on Link Road from McDonald’s to Kora Kendra and the one near Veg Treat restaurant at Shimpoli junction, both showed no connection at all. Local residents confirmed they couldn’t use the services.
mid-day couldn’t connect to the Kora Kendra router and Mahesh Gaikwad says the Gorai creek network works only after 9 pm
“It ran well initially, but the signal has always been poor for the past few months. The moment you try to connect to it, the network disappears from the list of Wi-Fi networks,” said Uday Kumar (38), an employee of Veg Treat restaurant.
Similarly, Prem Roy (29), a local resident, has given up on the Kora Kendra connection. “I use my own data pack because the router breaks down regularly,” he said. The only functioning service is at Gorai Creek, which had earlier been placed on the road from Gorai bus depot to Maxus Mall junction.
However, this only works from 7-9 am and after 9 pm. “The signal is weak in the day, but many youngsters come after 9 pm to access the Wi-Fi services,” said Mahesh Gaikwad, a media professional. mid-day reporters couldn’t access it at 2.30 pm.
Vinod Tawde, education minister and MLA for the area, said, “Our party workers conduct random checks at the spots and submit a report. Seeing them, I can say that only the Shimpoli location is facing issues because its wire got cut. If people are facing any issues, they are free to contact me any time.”
While the Shiv Sena accepted their services weren’t running to capacity, the MNS blamed it on a technical fault of the day. The only silver lining for their party is their router in Vile Parle (East), which is working without any issues.
Only the Vile Parle (East) router set up by MNS is working
Situated at ICICI Bank, the steps outside the bank are filled with students from Dahanukar and Sathaye colleges, who said they enjoyed its free services whenever they dropped by. Even mid-day was able to surf without any hassles.
Sandeep Deshpande, MNS spokesperson, said, “I can practically show you how many people log in to our network (Shivaji Park Wi-Fi). Today, there could've been a technical problem, but, otherwise, it works fine.”