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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Citizen manifestos lay out agenda for candidates

Updated on: 12 May,2024 06:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

They want focus on air pollution, footpath encroachments and want to preserve ecological sites—residents all across Mumbai are putting their demands in writing

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Citizen manifestos lay out agenda for candidates

Team Mumbai March with BJP’s Mumbai North candidate Piyush Goyal

Key Highlights

  1. Residents, citizen groups across city are actively participating in the electoral process
  2. They are demanding concrete solutions to the issues outlined in their submissions
  3. The “Chandivali cha manifesto” highlights numerous issues directly

As the General Election in Mumbai approaches its climax, residents and citizen groups across the city are actively participating in the electoral process by presenting their own manifestos to candidates from various political parties in their respective constituencies. They are demanding concrete solutions to the issues outlined in their submissions or requesting a clear time line for addressing their concerns.

One such citizen group, the Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association, has taken the initiative to draft its own manifesto titled, “Chandivali cha manifesto”. The Mumbai North-Central constituency comprises of six assembly seats, including Bandra East and West, Kalina, Vile Parle, Kurla, and Chandivali. The Indian National Congress has nominated Varsha Gaikwad, the incumbent MLA from Dharavi, as its candidate for Mumbai North-Central, while the BJP has opted for a change by replacing its two-time MP Poonam Mahajan with Ujjwal Nikam, renowned for his role as the public prosecutor in the trial of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for his involvement in the 26/11 attacks and other terror cases.

The “Chandivali cha manifesto” highlights numerous issues directly and indirectly affecting the residents of Chandivali—concerns that are crucial to their locality but often overlooked by mainstream party manifestos. These issues include air pollution from illegal bhattis and ready-mix concrete plants, widespread encroachments on footpaths, the demand for a mini fire station, new roads to alleviate traffic congestion, and rampant open garbage dumping.

The Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association with their manifesto
The Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association with their manifesto

Mandeep Singh Makkar, the founder of the Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association, stated, “We understand that MPs represent larger constituencies, and general elections are not solely about local civic issues. However, during election time, candidates mobilise their efforts and have a robust network that reaches every household to seek votes. At the Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association, we have not relied on public representatives or MPs to address our issues. Over the years, we have endeavoured to resolve problems on our own, which has been quite effective. Nonetheless, unlike us, many others may require assistance. We expect our elected representatives to have an active presence on social media so they can connect with more people.” The group has already presented the manifesto to Varsha Gaikwad, who visited them on May 5, and on May 11, late in the evening, they also handed it over to Advocate Ujwal Nikam.

Makkar further emphasised, “We lack essential infrastructure such as a fire station, which is crucial for a locality with high-rise buildings. We expect our MP to meet with us at least once a year, and someone from their team should be accessible to listen to our concerns. After presenting the manifesto to Congress candidate Varsha Gaikwad, she responded positively and assured us that all our demands would be addressed.”

In Juhu, residents met Ravindra Waikar of the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde), a candidate in the fray in the Mumbai North-West constituency, and handed him a charter of demands. In the run-up to the general elections, the Gulmohar Area Societies Welfare Group (GASWG) crafted an eight-point charter, expecting responses from the two prominent political party candidates in the Mumbai North-West constituency. The residents are adamant about receiving tangible solutions to the issues outlined in their submission or, at the very least, a clear time line, addressing their demands.

The charter encompasses various pressing concerns, including the Juhu Vision Plan—a comprehensive initiative aimed at interlinking open spaces and cultural institutions in the Juhu neighbourhood. The residents advocate for the completion of the ongoing Irla Nullah pilot project, which commenced in 2015 and involves the construction of a walking and cycling track along the nullah. Furthermore, they urge candidates to introduce new projects within the plan to enhance walkability and connect open spaces across Juhu.

Height regulations for buildings are another focal point of their demands, as ambiguity in permissible heights hinders several redevelopment projects. Additionally, the group emphasises the importance of obtaining clearances for developments within a 500-yard radius of the Army Transmission Station near Silver Beach in Juhu, along with exemptions from height restrictions to avail of FSI benefits.

Ashoke Pandit, filmmaker and chairman of GASWG, emphasized the importance of implementing the Juhu Vision Plan. Pandit, too like Makkar, stressed that while these are local issues, the active interest and support from an MP could expedite the process significantly. He highlighted their negative experiences over the past decade due to the lack of engagement from the sitting MP and stressed the importance of active participation from the MP they elect. 

Pandit said: “We hope that our concerns will be addressed, as the plan has the potential to enhance the daily quality of life in Juhu and serve as a model for other neighbourhoods to follow.” Turning to the Mumbai North constituency, a collective of residents known as Mumbai March has crafted their manifesto and charter of demands, which they have presented to the candidates from the two major parties: Union Minister Piyush Goyal, representing the BJP, and his rival, Congress candidate Bhushan Patil.

The Mumbai March manifesto addresses pressing concerns related to the environment, infrastructure, mobility, and slum rehabilitation. It advocates for a restructured slum redevelopment scheme, aiming to accelerate progress and streamline bureaucratic processes.

Gopal Jhaveri, social activist and founder of the Mumbai March, highlighted the absence of vital road infrastructure connecting Andheri to Dahisar, including areas like Kulupwadi, Devipada, Magathane, Siddharth Nagar, Thakur Village, Lokhandwala, Kandivali, and Dindoshi Film City. The manifesto aims to draw attention to the persistent issue of missing roads, which, according to the group, have been absent for the past five decades despite being included in the development plans of 1967, 1991, and 2014. The group asserts that addressing these missing roads through the clearance of encroachments and construction could effectively alleviate traffic and congestion issues. “The daily traffic congestion in Mumbai North underscores the need to bridge these gaps to improve connectivity and traffic management. We have thoroughly studied this and realised that opening these blocked/underdeveloped roads will alleviate the traffic congestion that we grapple with every single day. Additionally, we have proposed measures such as an animal bypass near Ghodbunder to protect leopards and the establishment of an out-station bus terminal at Dahisar check Naka, utilising available octroi land,” added Jhaveri.

Avinash Thawani, a Mumbai March member, outlined their manifesto, drawing inspiration from Singapore’s public housing system. Their aim is to reduce the saleable component of slum redevelopment until Mumbai attains zero slum status, requiring significant government intervention.” Expressing concerns over the sluggish pace of the current SRA scheme, which could prolong Mumbai’s journey to becoming slum-free by over two centuries. Thawani said, “With a core team of 40 members and over 1,000 volunteers, we seek insights from successful models and reports. Our demands also include addressing challenges faced by Adivasi communities in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park by advocating for organised housing relocation in collaboration with the forest department.”

Mumbai March, through their manifesto, have also emphasized the need to preserve ecologically significant sites like Turzon Hill and Charkop Lake, urging their designation as a Mumbai Bird Sanctuary. Additionally, they call for action to tackle encroachments on Dindoshi Hill in Goregaon, designated as a No Development Zone, to mitigate future risks of flooding.

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