Fed up with poor quality of life, residents of Mumbai’s eastern suburbs came out to vote on Thursday hoping to bring about a change.
“Every day, we struggle for water and clean toilets. I am voting with the hope that the new corporator will make a difference,” said 19-year-old Suraj Sakate of Shivajinagar, Mankhurd, who voted for the first time.
By 3.30pm on Thursday, over 40% of voters from the eastern suburbs had cast their votes. Observers estimated that voter turnout from housing societies was better than that in 2007, though it were the slum pockets from Chembur, Govandi and Mankhurd that saw the most aggressive demands for change. If voices outside polling booths were any indication, the mandate is for large-scale redevelopment. “We need a radical change in living conditions and it can only happen through redevelopment,” said Vaibhav Gurav, a first-time voter who lives at Mulund Colony. Slum pockets in Chembur, Bhandup and Mulund have been clamouring for relief from crumbling civic amenities and ill-planned development. “Are better rooms and proper toilet facilities too much to ask for,” asked Ashok Bhojne, a resident of Tembhipada, Bhandup.
Slum dwellers in Bhandup, which has been a Shiv Sena stronghold, suggested that it was time for change. “It is time we give new leaders a chance. Nothing much has come through in the last few years,” said a voter in Nardas Nagar in Bhandup, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, voters from Mankhrud, Shivajinagar and Cheetah camp seemed to have tempered their expectations. “These people can’t clean our gutters properly; what’s the chance they will be able to give us new buildings? We are only hoping for better civic services,” said Nandkumari Yadav, 35, a Bharatnagar resident.