East-side story | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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East-side story

Ten years ago, when businessman Kamlesh Shah’s (47) 15-year-old son began falling ill because of the high level of pollution, he decided to shift his residence from Garodia Nagar to MG Road in Ghatkopar East, reports Serena Menon.

mumbai Updated: Oct 06, 2009 01:15 IST
Serena Menon

Ten years ago, when businessman Kamlesh Shah’s (47) 15-year-old son began falling ill because of the high level of pollution, he decided to shift his residence from Garodia Nagar to MG Road in Ghatkopar East.

But that presented a new set of problems — traffic jams, narrow roads, slums and lack of hygiene. No one complains, no one hears.

Meanwhile, just across the highway, Sudhir Jadhav (31) has been living in a room at the end of a narrow lane in Kamraj Nagar for 25 years.

He makes jewellery boxes at a shop nearby. An open drain marks the expanse of the entire locality. It runs through shanties, by the roadside and sometimes into their rooms. Despite all this, Jadhav couldn’t be happier. Genuinely.

“There is no issue I can think of,” he said, pointing to a makeshift water pump perched atop the drain. “Water is not an issue. I work late into the night and the police never bother us, nor do the politicians. We’re as happy as can be,” he said.

The area that once was dominated by Gujaratis now has a sizeable Maharashtrian population. They not only have faith in the government but are also amazed at how efficient their lawmakers are, pointing to the reinauguration of a Slum Rehabilitation Authority project earlier this week.

The one issue that rankles everyone, though, is the traffic congestion.

The middle-class wastes valuable hours commuting to work and back, while rickshaw drivers refuse to ply short distances. They say it often takes an hour to cover two km.

Hemant Garut (40), a contractor, has been living in Ghatkopar (East) by the highway for 20 years. He recollects how the public bathroom behind his house was constructed last year and was unhappy when it was broken down again last week.

“It was a nice, clean bathroom,” said Garut, “but I guess they wanted to make a better one, that too without us asking for it.”

It could be naivete, especially given the infrastructure track record in the constituency. Good roads are often broken and remade, while places where they are needed are ignored.

What’s most apparent about the constituency is the fact that its electorate spans the entire financial spectrum. Multi-storeyed towers dwarf little shanties.

Whoever is elected from here will have his or her hands full with the varying expectation that the voters will have.