Mumbai: Squatters build homes under Eastern Freeway highway
With MMRDA not paying attention, encroachers have built huts under Eastern Freeway's southbound end on P D’mello Road; more than 8 such structures all with proper doors have cropped up
Encroachers have made the Eastern Freeway their home. As the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has turned a blind eye towards one of its mega projects, squatters have built huts below the southbound end of the flyover.
The illegal structures that have come up under the southbound end of Eastern Freeway include homes and some shops, all with proper doors. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
When mid-day visited the southern end of the structure on P D’mello Road, we noticed 10 huts under the flyover including shops and homes. What’s more, these shanties have proper doors in place meaning there is absolutely no mechanism to keep encroachers at bay from the structure.
Locals who work in nearby areas feel that if proper care is not taken, the entire stretch is vulnerable to encroachment. They said these structures have been here for at least two months and fear more will follow, making it difficult to remove them in future.
A person who works in the MbPT area, requesting anonymity, said, “A lot of taxpayers’ money has gone into the construction of the Eastern Freeway. MMRDA also had to carry out resettlement and rehabilitation of people for the project. It is sad to see the Eastern Freeway ramp being taken over by these encroachers.”
Vipul M, a resident from the area, said, “It is really shocking to see illegal construction below the Eastern Freeway. What are the authorities doing? All these encroachments have come up in front of their eyes. They should take immediate action to avoid further huts cropping up.”
Dilip Kawathkar, joint project director, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, said, “We will immediately look into the matter and solve the the issue of encroachment.”
The 16.4-km Eastern Freeway connects the island city and the eastern suburbs. It runs from Orange Gate to Anik-Panjarpol Link Road and further up to Ghatkopar.
It is divided in three parts – one, the corridor from Orange Gate to the beginning of Anik-Panjarpol Link Road (9.29 km); two, the corridor from Anik to the beginning of Panjarpol-Ghatkopar Link Road (4.3 km) and three, Panjarpol to Ghatkopar (2.81 km).
Work began on the project in January 2008 with the original deadline being December 2012. The 13.59-km stretch from Shivaji Chowk to south Mumbai was opened in May 2013. The remaining 2.81-km stretch (Panjarpol to Ghatkopar) opened to traffic last year.
Rs 572 crore
Cost of completing the Eastern Freeway
Rs 531 crore
Original estimated cost of the Eastern Freeway project