Marmik Mehta, 24, has to wait every day for nearly an hour at Chembur station just to get an auto to go to Vashi Naka, which the upcoming monorail project cuts through.
“The roads were already so narrow and now, with the monorail work going on, there are barely two thoroughly potholed lanes left for traffic. So no autos are ready to come here,” Mehta explained.
For residents of the M-west ward, this is just one of the many things that is messing up their daily commute.
Along with the much-delayed monorail, there are two other big-ticket projects slated for this eastern suburb: the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road, the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd metro line and the Eastern Freeway project.
These transportation projects, once ready, will transform the lives of residents of this ward, but as of now, with already narrow, congested roads and limited infrastructure, residents are plain worried about the state of traffic once work on all the projects begin.
That’s not their only concern. This belt is ranked among one of the most polluted areas in the city. In a survey done jointly by the Union environment ministry and IIT Delhi, this ward was ranked 19th among the 88 most polluted industrial clusters in India in December 2009.
The ward has three major pollutants: The BPCL and HPCL refineries, a Tata Power plant and a Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers plant.
“Pollution is one of the biggest problems here. To add to industrial pollution, another constant source of pollution is the Deonar dumping ground and the bio-medical incinerator,” said Rajkumar Sharma, 61, AGNI coordinator and chairman of the Diamond Gardens Residents’ Forum.
Residents are also worried that these mega transport projects will result in a significant rise in traffic in the area, which in turn will contribute to further air pollution. No wonder then that locals are not thrilled with the development plans.
“These projects have been imposed upon us with absolutely no consultation, and the way they are being executed shows that hardly any planning has gone into them,” said Sharma.
Anil Nagrath, 61, who lives near Diamond Garden, agrees. “This area does not have infrastructure such as parking and wide roads, which are needed for these big-ticket projects to serve their purpose and be successful,” he said.
According to Nagrath, these projects, combined with the redevelopment of buildings, spell trouble. “They are going to increase the population, which the local infrastructure is not entirely capable of supporting.”