Forty years ago, the Daftarys, a doctor couple who built a self-contained bungalow-cum-maternity hospital at Juhu Scheme, found it difficult to get their staff to work.
“None of the auto rickshaws would want to come here and bus routes were few,” said Dr Shirish Daftary, a gynaecologist, who has famous neighbours — actors Ajay and Kajol Devgan, Dharmendra and the Bachchans. “But things have changed. Everyone owns vehicles now and public transport is at our doorstep at all hours.”
The tree-lined roads of the area lead to the famous ISKON temple and Prithvi theatre.
“But we are not sure of what will happen next with the proposed elevated Metro that will run through this quiet residential area with small streets. It should go underground,” his wife, 71- year old pediatrician Dr Sindhu Daftary, said.
She listed the disadvantages of the elevated way — it will cut through the green foliage, reduce the width of the narrow roads further, add to the noise and air pollution and leave no privacy.
The concern of the Daftarys is reflected in the innumerable posters pasted along the roads of the Andheri West constituency, which has over 1.52 lakh voters.
The state government has planned a Rs 6,192-crore, 32-km long Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro line. About eight km of the elevated route will pass through the constituency.
“We want the government to realise that just like south Mumbai, we deserve an underground Metro,” said P.K. Das, a Juhu resident.
“The suburbs should be treated with equal parity and not as dumping grounds. These are high-density areas and we will be adding to the chaos by having an elevated rail.”
But, sitting Congress MLC Ashokbhau Jadhav, who is contesting the election, is not too worried. “I have always supported my citizens and have done lot of work to solve the water problems,” he said.
According to official records, he has not raised any constituency-related issues in the Assembly in the past five years.
This indifference has caused citizens to put up their own candidate for the elections, Hansel D’souza. Their first citizen candidate, Adolf D’souza, won the civic elections from Juhu to become the first citizen corporator.
“Apart from supporting the demand for an underground Metro, I am looking at improving the state of Cooper Hospital, standard of municipal schools and putting a stop to projects like an eight-lane highway that is proposed to come along Juhu beach,” said Hansel.
“It’s time we ask people what they want.”