Mid day Editorial: Will BMC finally demolish official apathy?

Jan 01, 2018, 07:25 IST | Team mid day

It took a disaster like the Kamala Mills fire to finally propel the authorities to launch demolition drives across the city

It took a disaster like the Kamala Mills fire to finally propel the authorities to launch demolition drives across the city. Even as you read this, demolition men are at it with gusto, tearing big and small shops and restaurants that have raised illegal structures or encroached into public space. We see small snack and tea shop extensions lying in ruins, and restaurant awnings that were eating into pavement space are now lying on the road. The famous Mumbai street food stalls, with chairs and tables on pavements, have also been temporarily disbanded and their gas cylinders have been confiscated. The post-Kamala Mills clean up drive seems far-reaching and rampant.

It is sobering to think just how deep-rooted the rot in our system was, if this was the extent of illegal structures and extensions that were present for years together on our roads. Why were these allowed to come up and who kept them going? Now that the drive has started, the BMC and city leaders can only retain the confidence of the public if they keep at it. This needs to be an exercise with depth, vision and planning, rather than a knee-jerk reaction by officials under pressure because of the severe backlash over the fire.

How do the officials make sure those that the footpaths — which are the exit point in case a fire breaks out — remain clear of encroachment? How will they ensure that henceforth, people can only set up shop if they have the required permissions? Should all shops of all sizes have fire-fighting equipment? If the smaller shops are exempt, how can they prepare for fire emergencies? Can one calamity really change things to such an extent or are these measures simply cosmetic? It is up to the authorities to prove how sincere they are in making these changes.

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