Mumbai: Dogged slums re-emerge in Bandra East
A year after civic action cleared space on the east side of Bandra station for integrated traffic management, encroachments are back
Come rain, fire, or a brand-new autorickshaw stand, Bandra East won't stop slumming it. The slums near the congested railway station, demolished earlier this year after a Bombay High Court order, have started springing up again.
While there is no clarity on whether or not this construction is legal, Western Railway officials said these slums could either be of those residents who have approached HC, or they could have come up again since there is a status quo on the BMC's demolition drive in the area. The permanent autorickshaw stand has been made in the same space the slums once stood in an attempt to decongest it. But this hasn't deterred the previous residents from returning to reconstruct their demolished homes, a chunk of which were also destroyed in a massive fire last year. Despite the obvious hazards of the area, its former residents have come back again to remake houses near the railway tracks and the ticket window.
A permanent autorickshaw stand has also not been able to prevent the re-construction of shanties in Bandra East
The legality of this new construction remains hazy as well, with railway officials saying these slums might be the ones that have approached HC, and have come up since there is a status quo on the demolition drive.
In a mass demolition drive that was planned at Bandra east last year, the Railways had sent out about 369 demolition notices, many of which were demolished after the fire. Now, they wait to hear from HC before taking further action. Speaking to mid-day, Western Railway's chief public relations officer, Ravinder Bhaker, said, "Currently we have stalled any action here, as per HC orders. We have a hearing on October 10, after which we will be told what needs to be done here."
Despite the obvious hazards of the area, its former residents have come back to remake houses near the railway tracks and the ticket window. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Civic and railway authorities cannot take any action against this as their hands are tied by an HC-ordered status quo. The state government has not made the decongestion of the area a priority either, instead choosing to focus a few kilometres ahead on the Bandra Kurla Complex. All of this is likely to further affect BMC's plan to implement the Station and Traffic Improvement Scheme (SATIS).
This new slum construction is likely to throw a spanner in the works for BMC too, in its plan to construct a 2.5-kilometre long bridge that will go all the way to the Bandra terminus, thus decongesting Bandra east station. As part of SATIS, BMC will also improve the side-strips of the roads damaged by construction. BMC also wants to seek the 30,000 square meters from the Railways on a nominal lease to keep the autos from creating traffic hassles. Assistant municipal commissioner of H-East ward, Alka Sasane, remained unavailable for comment.
For now, the traffic police continues to keep a vigil here. One of the officials on duty said, "Despite having an auto stand, people and rickshaws continue to flout the queue and stand on the road, throwing the traffic out of gear. We're trying to keep the autos away from abruptly stopping on the road. It will take time before they start to fall in line."
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