For four years now, Sunil Sethi (42) has had no furniture in the living room of his ground-floor house at Robert Compound in Kalina’s Kolvery Village.
Reason: His house gets flooded even when it drizzles as the village’s drain has been encroached upon and illegally diverted.
But this monsoon, Sethi hopes he will be able to sit on a sofa and watch television. More than 150 villagers have launched a citizens’ movement to raze, what they claim, are illegal encroachments along the drain. They also plan to file a petition in the high court.
Following the success of a citizens’ movement at Irla nullah at Juhu, which resulted in illegal encroachments being razed, Kolvery village has started a similar movement against Raj Galaxy, a building that locals claim has diverted the flow of the nullah, resulting in flooding in the area.
Locals claim the original drain that passes through the village was supposed to flow under the building, Raj Galaxy. Built in 2005, the building blocked the drain, and it was then diverted.
“We have documents to show the builder was asked to build a connecting nullah through the building to the main drain to reduce flooding. But he has blocked the nullah by building a compound wall,” said Sethi.
Philomena Merchant, deputy sarpanch of the Kolovery Village’s Mobai Gaothan Panchayat, said:
“We hire labourers on our own to clean our drains.”
The local ward officer passed the buck to the municipal corporation. “The ward office has done what the Storm Water Drains department instructed us to do. We only carried out the orders,” said Anand Waghralkar, officer of H East Ward.
Senior SWD officials claimed the nullah wasn’t encroached upon.
“We had instructed the developer to build a connecting nullah from the building, but then we constructed the nullah and diverted it. So, the connecting nullah wasn’t required.”