Bandra and Khar have for years struggled to strike a balance between religious sentiments and needs of development.
Bandra — the ‘queen of the suburbs’ — Khar and Santacruz have witnessed mushrooming of posh buildings and apartments. With the elite community opting for this area, there is a manifold increase in the number of private vehicles over the years. Bandra (West), Khar (West) and Santcruz (West) comprise ward H (West).
The narrow lanes cannot accommodate the increasing vehicles and traffic congestion has become a major problem in the area. The problem aggravates with vehicles trooping in to swanky high-rises, malls, multiplexes, hotels and hospitals.
To add more to the chaos are people crowding places such as Bandstand, Carter Road, Hill Road and Pali Naka puts more pressure on the traffic in the area as the ward has few wide roads.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had plans to convert the 60-feet western stretch of Hill Road into a 90-feet one to accommodate the increasing traffic. But the plan has been stalled due to demolition that has to carried out on some portions of old heritage structures, including the Tata Parsi Agiary, St Peter’s Church, St Stanislaus High School and St Andrew’s Church.
The BMC’s proposal was opposed by Bandra Hill Road Citizen’s Committee and political parties joined them. The widening of roads planned by the civic body had proposed to touch the graveyards of the ancient churches, including St Andrew’s Church.
“The civic body’s plan was such that it would have definitely hurt religious sentiments of a particular community,” said Anil Joseph (33), an active member of H (West) citizen’s trust.
“The demolition of the old buildings would have added to the problems as Catholics in the area are already facing scarcity of land to bury the dead,” he said.
Every church has space for burial, but with an increase in Catholic population churches have stopped giving space to those who do not belong to their parish.
Last year, BJP leader Shaina NC filed a petition in the Bombay High Court on the speedy and illegal development within gaothan (old village) areas despite non-availability of proper infrastructure for the existing ones.
“Development is done in such a way that not even a car can enter the lanes. What will one do when a fire brigade needs to enter these lanes,” said Shaina.
“Every inch shouldn’t be exploited commercially. The heritage structures and the East Indian look that Bandra is known for should be preserved. But unfortunately, it’s not happening,” she added.
Sitting BJP corporator Ashish Shelar was all praise for the BMC. “The civic body has done good job. Many problems have been solved. Some are in the process of being resolved,” he said.
“Concretisation has been done on Hill Road, Carter Road and reclamation road but as these areas have upper class residents, malls, shopping centres and hotels, parking is the major problem here. The state government has failed to solve the issue,” Shelar added.