Chennaiwadi, an 8,000 sq mt plot in Khar (W), was earmarked as a playground in the 1991 Development Plan. Today, it is full of encroachments such as slums and illegal shops.
Hindustan Times called Ward Officer Manik Kshirsagar twice and sent him a text message but he did not respond.
Activist Aftab Siddiqui carried out a detailed investigation in the H West Ward — which comprises prime real estate destinations such as Bandra (W), Khar (W) and Santacruz (W) — and found that seven plots reserved for open spaces had been encroached upon. Among these, Chennaiwadi was the largest.
Blaming the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Siddiqui said: “An illegal commercial area has come up on land reserved for children to play on. This wouldn’t have been possible had the BMC not turned a blind eye to it.”
At Chennaiwadi, there is a booming readymade garments market, along with a real estate one. A shopkeeper said the shops were in high demand. “Ever since Chennaiwadi got ‘developed’, shops here command a monthly rent of Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000.”
A few months ago, a survey conducted by non-governmental organisation Citispace showed that H West Ward had the most number of encroachments on reserved open spaces in the entire city. Chennaiwadi is part of this ward, which has 1,59,265 sq mt reserved for open spaces. Of these, 52,423 sq mt have been encroached upon.