Maharashtra Assembly Polls: South Mumbai rolls eyes at elections

Updated: Oct 20, 2019, 07:37 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Whether it's dealing with hawkers, errant taxi drivers or polluting jewellery factories, South Mumbai expects little progress from new set of leaders

Bharat Shah, Mulji Jetha Market
Bharat Shah, Mulji Jetha Market

While they recognise the importance of casting their vote on October 21, South Mumbai residents feel they have little to look forward to. In Colaba, the nuisance of hawkers and the lack of parking space has affected shop owners, pedestrians and residents. Nadi Atiramani, the owner of a garment store, says, "The hawkers block access to our shops. We have complained to the BMC time and again but the problem persists."

For over a decade, residents of Bhuleshwar have similarly continued their fight against jewellery workshops in their area. Although, political leaders had intervened, they continue to suffer from asthma, bronchitis and restrictive lung disease due to toxic fumes from factory chimneys. Vijay Shah, treasurer of the Bhuleshwar Residents Association, says, "We had approached corporators but they are all hand-in-glove with the jewellers. Rampant corruption meant that we had to move court but the matter is progressing slowly."

Nadi Atiramani, Colaba
Nadi Atiramani, Colaba

It's not just the economic slowdown that's a worry for traders at Zaveri Bazaar, civic issues also continue to bother them. Bharat Shah, who runs a shop inside Mulji Jetha Market, says he is concerned about cleanliness in the neighbourhood. "The government has been stressing on Swachch Bharat but it won't ensure that this market is clean. The streets are littered and BMC cleaners come only in the morning. The drains are always overflowing."

Most shopkeepers in Kalbadevi believe that the BJP will return to power and little is expected to change. While BJP leader Raj Purohit is the sitting MLA, Rahul Narvekar is BJP's candidate from the Colaba constituency. Vinod Sakaria, a shopkeeper from the area, says, "A road in our area has been dug up for 20 days. Approaching corporators is pointless. If the people are bringing politicians to power, then politicians should focus on people's problems."

Hawkers block the path of pedestrians and vehicles near Zaveri Bazaar. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Hawkers block the path of pedestrians and vehicles near Zaveri Bazaar. Pics/Sneha Kharabe

Over the last few years, south Mumbai has witnessed a series of building collapses, in Byculla, Dongri and Bhendi Bazaar. Unauthorised construction and delayed redevelopment of dilapidated buildings continue to be the major issue. Abizer Attarwala lives in a building at Bhendi Bazar that needs urgent repairs, but is unable to move out without financial support from either the builder or MHADA. "There are 20 dilapidated buildings in the area and we are living in fear. We hope that the new government will focus on development of this neighbourhood," he says.

Candidates Speak

Amin Patel, Two-term Congress MLA, Mumbadevi
'For re-development, four parties have to be on board including the government, tenants, landlord and MHADA. It's the fights between tenants and landlords that lead to delays. I have worked to resolve these issues and will continue to meet with the BMC to ensure that illegal construction is dealt with in a strict manner.'

Rahul Narvekar, BJP candidate, Colaba
'There is shortage of water in Colaba and we need a dedicated reservoir. Around 70 per cent of the buildings are dilapidated. I have requested for an allocation of R100 crore for repairs. I will ensure that the streets are made hawker-free and a separate zone is provided for them. I am also looking into plots that have been reserved for parking, and are now being used for other purposes.'

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