Nilesh Mhatre, an IT professional, spends at least an hour in traffic at Chembur.
The reason? Congestion on arterial roads in the M-West ward.
Although uniquely located — four major roads, the eastern freeway, SCLR, Eastern expressway and Sion-Panvel highway pass through it — traffic snarls are common.
The lack of parking space, few footpaths, encroachments where there are footpaths and parking on roads only add to the trouble in M-West, which covers most of Chembur’s suburbs.
These, however, are not new issues.
Five years ago, when people voted during the civic polls, they hoped three promised big-ticket projects — the monorail, Santacruz-Chembur Link Road and the Eastern Freeway — would ease their traffic woes.
Work was underway at the time, but now complete, the projects seem to have aggravated the traffic situation.
M-West is predominantly residential and industrial, home to several big housing colonies such as Sindhi Colony and Chheda Nagar. It also houses slum pockets, in Chembur (West), Lal Dongar and Chembur Naka areas.
Localities like Tilak Nagar saw rapid transformation in the past decade, after old, dilapidated buildings were replaced with new high-rises.
Despite the diversity, M-West’s growth story is a classic example of the ills of unplanned expansion and vertical development .
Most key roads in the ward, including Shell colony road, Chembur-Govandi Road, Dr Gidawani Road, Ghatkopar-Mahul Raod and Kurla-Chembur, witness severe congestion during the peak hours. Lack of pedestrian facilities, hawkers and unregulated parking makes the situation worse.
The issue is worst on the Ghatkopar-Mahul road, which provides east-west connectivity. As it connects to the industrial area of Mahul, it sees movement of heavy vehicles, including tankers ferrying hazardous goods. The Mono rail track running over it has further reduced the width of the road.
“The BMC has implemented only 17% of the existing development plan of the entire M-ward. This has had an adverse effect on the ward’s basic infrastructure,” said Ravindra Pawar, a former NCP corporator.
The rise in vehicular pollution is another prime concern of the residents here, already battling pollution from industrial units for years.
“Pollution is one of the biggest problems in Chembur. To add to the industrial pollution, a constant source of pollution is the Deonar dumping ground and the bio-medical incinerator. Several suffer with diseases such as TB in the ward,” said Rajkumar Sharma, 66, a well-known activist.
Residents said MMRDA has built thousands of new houses to resettle project-affected people from across the city in Chembur. Many of these are still empty, but they fear the traffic situation will get worse when the people start moving in.