Chandivali is an upscale residential locality in Andheri East. It is isolated and connectivity to public transport is limited. The nearest railway station on the western, Andheri station, and on the central line, Ghatkopar station, are 6 km and 4 km away respectively. This makes the citizens of the area heavily dependent on roads for commuting.
Unfortunately, the roads in Chandivali are one of the worst in the city. The DP road-9, Powai is an important road that connects the Chandivali Farm Road with the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. The road is riddled with numerous potholes making it dangerous for commuters, especially two wheelers.
Frequent complaints to authorities on the state of the road have fallen on deaf ears. With no other option left, we, the residents of Chandivali decided to take matters in our own hands. We decided to congratulate motorists who bravely risked their lives by travelling on this road. On 1st July, 2023, we felicitated the motorists with shawls and coconuts. The idea was to highlight the issue and bring it to the notice of the authorities. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Road Department Officer contacted us with the promise of rectifying the problem. We still await action.
We started the Chandivali Citizens Welfare Association in 2017 to voice concerns regarding civic issues in the area. A group of about 1000 residents from various societies in the area, we try to bridge the gap between citizens and authorities. The residents are our eyes and ears, who spot and report the issues on our WhatsApp group. We then broadcast the issue on our Twitter handle. In the past, we have raised issues related to garbage, air pollution, traffic and bad roads.
Currently, with rains setting in, our main concern is the DP road-9, Powai, and an incomplete constructed parallel road, which seems to have been abandoned by authorities.
Lack of prioritisation
Earlier this year, the BMC gave a single contractor the contract to develop 182 roads the in the city. While we do not doubt their expertise, we are not sure if they have the expertise in building roads in overcrowded cities such as Mumbai. They have failed to understand, which roads to prioritise. Shouldn’t they have worked on this road on priority before monsoons?
Before monsoons, the road was dug for building new drains. This was hurriedly patched at the start of the monsoons and has resulted in a nightmarish, pothole riddled road. In a span of 5 months, the agency was able to develop only 50 metres of the drain. We wonder how many years it would take for them to complete the entire stretch.
A delay is inevitable during a fire or health emergency.
Surprisingly, a new road that would have provided some respite to the citizens of Chandivali has been abandoned. This is a 90 feet road that is constructed parallel to the DP road-9. It would have provided an alternative route to the residents. It has dead ends on both sides making it useless. Moreover, employees of a famous bank use it for parking. Lately, we have noticed illegal hawkers on this road. A road built for nothing is a complete waste of public funds.
Diversion of issues by authorities
With the monsoons in full swing, the DP road – 9 is unsafe, not only for commuters, but also for the pedestrians. The footpaths are absent making it dangerous for the pedestrians. Almost 60,000 residents live nearby and depend completely on this road.
Our demands are for the DP road-9 to be rectified immediately and to complete the half-done parallel road. Earlier, we met the assistant commissioner of the L ward to highlight various issues in the area, including this one. We submitted a letter to the assistant commissioner after the meeting. After almost a month, we received a reply, which diverted the issues to other officers, many of whom had the same address as the L ward office.
Their reply neither mentions the names nor the contacts of the officers. Ideally, the complaint officer should have dealt with the issues and forwarded them to the concerned officers. We as a citizen group feel helpless, when authorities do not pay heed to our complaints. Whom do we turn to in such a situation?
Also, on 12th February, 2023, we organised a peaceful protest to demand from BMC to complete the 90-feet road. After the protest we met the additional commisioner P Velarasu, who assured that the tender for 90 feet road would be finalised and floated within a month. We are waiting for BMC to start the work on the incomplete 90 feet road that will provide huge relief to residents from traffic congestion.
While we strive to bridge the gap between citizens and authorities, the lack of action by the authorities have only compounded the problem. Diversion of issues has left us feeling helpless and unheard. As we persevere in our efforts to voice concerns, we hope that the authorities hear our pleas and take prompt action. We hope to foresee a thriving living environment for all residents of Chandivali.
(Writing assistance provided by Lisann Dias.)