While the rest of the city has Monday blues, residents of N ward in Ghatkopar dread Thursdays. Reason: it is the market day for this Gujarati heartland, which, in their words, is equivalent to illegal hawkers, traffic and unending chaos.
“There is no space to walk. It is better not to step out of the house or remove your vehicle on a Thursday,” said Ghatkopar resident Priya Vijaykrishnan, 32.
The suburb has witnessed major infrastructure development in the past two decades, with its industrial units and factories being replaced with malls, high-rises, shops and a metro station.
Old residential buildings in Cama lane, Garodia Nagar, MG road and Pant Nagar were pulled down to create high-rises without the supporting infrastructure for wider roads.
The LBS Marg, one of the major arterial roads in the city, is choked for most part of the day. So are the link road, 90-feet roads and narrow lanes of MG Road.
“A ride from Garodia Nagar to Ghatkopar station should not cost more than Rs20. But after 3.30pm, it definitely costs more than Rs60. There are no facilities for pedestrians and the footpaths are encroached upon by hawkers and shops,” said Vijaykrishnan.
Unregulated hawkers and illegal parking add to the congestion. Mihir Palan, a media professional who frequents the area, said, “The use of paver blocks on footpaths is a wrong idea. The stalls set up by hawkers damage the footpaths further.”
A major part of the Vikhroli-Vidyavihar-Ghatkopar stretch provides easy access to other parts, adding to the congestion. The eastern express highway connects the stretch to Bhandup, Mulund, Thane, while the LBS Marg connects it to the western suburbs.
Traditionally dominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena, the BJP won two of the 12 electoral wards in 2012. The Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) won three seats each. However, with MLA Ram Kadam defecting from the MNS to the BJP before the 2014 Assembly elections, MNS’ chances are bleak. The area has MLA Prakash Mehta and MP Kirit Somaiya from the BJP.
Candidates contesting this civic election have made promises of solving Ghatkopar’s woes.
Recently, Congress candidate Pravin Chheda held a Facebook live to address traffic woes and wrote a letter to the traffic department.
BJP candidate Ritu Tawde has also made suggestions on widening roads to solve the crises.