Mumbai: Rehabilitation stalled, bar operates in middle of public space

Updated: Dec 21, 2016, 13:48 IST | Santosh Wagh

Sasural Bar has been on a footpath in the area after the Vighniharta Builders' slum rehabilitation project got tangled in a legal dispute and the construction work had to be halted

The illegal bar on a footpath on Jerbai Wadia road. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The illegal bar on a footpath on Jerbai Wadia road. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

A container-like structure on the Jerbai Wadia road in Bhoiwada could be mistaken at first sight for a temporary structure used by contractors while work at a construction site is underway. But ask the locals and they will tell you that it’s actually a bar, set up and still standing since 2008.

Legal inconvenience
Sasural Bar has been on a footpath in the area after the Vighniharta Builders’ slum rehabilitation project got tangled in a legal dispute and the construction work had to be halted. The contract as per which bar owner Balkrishna Kotian had given his previous premises for redevelopment was that he would get possession of the new place within six months of demolition, but the legal dispute derailed the plan, and a temporary permission was secured instead on the footpath.

The bar has been there since, inconveniencing pedestrians for years as well as blocking a public space.

A social activist from the area Ashok Maskar said, “We had decided to complain to the BMC and other authorities that this illegal bar has been operating on a footpath, which is meant for citizens. It is blocking a public space; residents have endured it for far too long.”

Annual permissions
What’s more shocking is that after securing the first temporary permission, the bar has managed to get an extension every year, even after Maskar’s complaints.

Assistant municipal commissioner of F-south ward Vishwas Mote said, “The owner was given temporary permission in 2008 after he was not rehabilitated as per the contract. He has been renewing the permission each year, and BMC has been granting it as his liquor licence is in place.”

When mid-day tried to contact Kotian, it was told that he was out of town. Bar manager Shekhar Pujari said, “It has been 30 years that Sasural Bar has been operating in the area. The builder had committed a new place to us within six months of demolition, but the commitment was not fulfilled. I understand there is a court case going on... The day we get the new place, we’ll move from here.”

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