Not my gully, say locals on Dr Peter Dias Road in Bandra
Residents of Bandra road protest civic body's road widening plan that threatens to take away their homes
Development comes at a cost, quite literally for residents of Dr Peter Dias Road in Bandra West. To make way for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's road widening plan, three buildings here will lose a portion of their homes while 60 residents of Gurav Chawl face displacement.
The BMC plans to widen Dr Peter Dias Road from its existing width of 16 feet to 42 feet and connect it to Tertulian Road. Residents of Symbol Society, however, claim that based on the civic body's calculations, if this project is implemented, the flats on one side of the building will lose two rooms each. Alcino Lobo, one of the residents living on the first floor of the building, said, "They will break a portion of my hall and bedroom. This is very unfair and the BMC is unwilling to listen."
Two other residential buildings - Hill Road Cooperative Society and Pushpa Cooperative Housing Society - have already approached the Bombay High Court alleging that the BMC is favouring a builder wanting to construct a building behind Gurav Chawl.
Sundar Shetty, the secretary for Pushpa Society, said that when their building was constructed in 1985, a certain amount of area was given to the civic body back then too. All the residents have now received notices under section 299 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act regarding letting go of their lands.
Residents from some of the buildings along the road as well as of Gurav Chawl have been fighting the road widening
Is the road required?
Residents of Gurav Chawl claim that they have been living here since 1920. "We all have jobs in the area. My father moved here in 1920 and I have grown up here. This is the only home I know. If the BMC forces us to move then we will all lose our livelihood," said Prakash Gurav.
Apart from the hutments, Benedict Soares who has been living behind Gurav Chawl since 1955 stands to lose his entire house. "There is no need for the road since this is completely a residential lane. The BMC just wants to benefit one builder and is displacing so many people when it can give access to the builder through the Tertulian Road behind," he said.
Dutt to the rescue
On Wednesday, former Congress MP Priya Dutt visited the area and has promised to look into the issue. "Development can be carried out only once the residents of the chawl have been rehabilitated and have agreed to the plan. It's obvious that this is being done to give access to the builder. I will write to the BMC," said Dutt.
Civic officials from H West, however, rubbished the claims that the project had been taken up to benefit anyone in particular. "The area around Mehboob Studio is an arterial junction. We are proceeding as per the law and as part of the project, other roads including Mount Carmel Road and St Sebastian Road are also being widened to ease traffic congestion at the junction," said Sharad Ugade, assistant municipal commissioner of H West ward. Another official added that eligible residents of Gurav Chawl will be given alternative accommodation.
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