Citizens do their bit, make a difference in this ward | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Citizens do their bit, make a difference in this ward

mumbai Updated: Jan 28, 2012 01:54 IST
Bhavika Jain

Be it reclaiming open spaces, opposing the open spaces policy, exposing dubious real estate deals or beautifying Juhu beach, citizens' associations in this ward are involved in all activities and issues that affect their lives.

"Citizen activism is a by-product of the negative attitude of the civic staff. One is forced to invest time to make a change," said Ashoke Pandit from the Gulmohar Area Societies Welfare Group, which after fighting for seven years, reclaimed a huge chunk of open space that had been handed over by the civic body to a private party.

In 2006, about 40% of Juhu beach had been encroached upon. Citizen activism has changed it to a decent waterfront for Mumbaiites. As hawkers were removed, the Juhu Citizens' Welfare Group (JCWG) came up with a beautification plan for the beach along with architect PK Das.

Not surprisingly then that in 2007, Mumbai's first citizen candidate, Adolf D'souza, was elected from Juhu, though he won only by a marrow margin of 600 votes. "The activism in this ward is result-oriented and is not just restricted to meetings and making plans," said D'souza.

This time at least 20 Independent candidates have decided to contest the upcoming civic polls from this ward so far. Residents from the ward are also quite involved, helping citizen candidates by funding them or volunteering for them. "It is easier for a citizen candidate to contest from the K-west ward, which is open to citizen activism, rather than contesting from a ward that has no history of citizen power," said Sherley Singh, an activist who is contesting the elections.