Clean and lock plot: BMC's solution to South Mumbai's 'open-air toilet'
Residents around Strand in Colaba faced a disappointing day on Monday. An open plot they have been fighting to put to good use cannot be utilised for any purpose for now. BMC officials visited the spot yesterday
Residents around Strand in Colaba faced a disappointing day on Monday. An open plot they have been fighting to put to good use cannot be utilised for any purpose for now. BMC officials visited the spot yesterday.
It is a 24/7 open bathroom and latrine. Pics/Bipin Kokate
They hope to clean it of the garbage heaps it has collected over time, and locked to keep out vagrants. The plot sits beside a BMC school and fish market right behind the now defunct Strand Cinema.
Garbage and debris is dumped in the open plot
An issue that was taken up by then MP Milind Deora in 2009, it actually dates back several decades. For more than 40-odd years, the plot that the residents hoped can be converted into a market or multi-storey parking lot, has been home to anti-social elements.
Piles of garbage make it a convenient open toilet. Debris is dumped in corners, and some say, even goats are slaughtered here. Rats, hen and cats are its permanent residents.
Yet another letter
A stench of urine and rotting garbage made residents of the area approach A Ward Councillor, Makarand Narvekar, who has written numerous letters to the BMC, the latest on December 2, 2015.
Julius Pereira and Ajay Multani
“Although it was originally earmarked for a market, it still lies unused. I have met BMC officials, but the file is not moving. We want a new market here to house hawkers. Alternately, let the plot be used as a pay-and-park facility,” he says.
Pallavi Darade, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC, chose to instead offer a short term solution. “Our Solid Waste Management staff has been deployed to remove the garbage and clean the plot. It should be done in the next three days.”
Hold your nose
Kishor Yadav, a resident of Sea King, says, “A few BMC officials arrived on Monday morning and checked the ground.Even if all they do is keep the plot clean, we are fine. At least, drug addicts and commercial sex workers will stop frequenting it. This makes our neighbourhood unsafe.” Lalita Wadhwa, a resident of Ionic building, agrees.
“Locking the plot or posting a security guard on duty will help reduce the garbage problem.” Mira Ahuja, a resident of Sangita building, says she gets nervous when her daughter returns home alone from school, passing near the plot.
“People openly bathe and defecate there. At night, in the absence of any lights, men spend their time there taking drugs, smoking and drinking.” Madhuri Ruia runs a popular gym in Colaba, and lives in Corinthian, a building that overlooks the plot. “It’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes and is notorious for anti-social activities,” she says.
The Strand Marg Association, a group of residents living around Strand, say their patience is running out. Member Ajay Multani says they last wrote to the BMC on October 15. Julius Pereira, another member, claims to have a copy of the civic plan of the area dating to 1976. It carries details of a building that was to come up on the plot, he says.
Want a tent?
A BMC official from the market department says, “The current FSI allows, at best, a tent to come up here. We cannot flout rules; a building cannot be built in 0.21 FSI. The 1976 plan is outdated. how can it be implemented in 2015-16? All we can do is keep it clean.” It is evident that the residents will have to be happy with that.
Been there, heard that
2007: During the naming of Dilip Sardesai Chowk in memory of the late cricketer, residents approached then MP Milind Deora to take action on the plot.
2008: MLA Annie Shekhar convened meet but little came of it.
2012: Assistant Municipal Commissioner (Market) Devidas Kshirsagar confirmed work on building will commence on plot, but it never did.
2015: Numerous letters were written by residents as well as corporator Makarand Narvekar, but the plot continues to be a dump.
Water activist Amla Ruia speaks to mid-day