The public hearing held to address residents’ concerns about the Peddar Road flyover ended after a verbal slugfest between 700 anti-flyover residents and 50-60 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) activists in favour of the project. Police had to step in as things heated up.
Even though residents were unable to voice their concerns and the meeting had to be adjourned, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) said it planned to go ahead with the flyover and would not hold another hearing. “We will inform the environment ministry about what happened on Monday and after getting their nod will start work on the project,” MSRDC vice chairman and managing director Bipin Shrimali said.
The MSRDC is keen on building the 4.1-km flyover. The NCP, which controls the MSRDC is also in favour of the flyover.
Monday’s hearing was held by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board at Mahalaxmi and was attended by 700 residents from Peddar Road, Altamount Road, Carmichael Road and Napean Sea Road.
Trouble at the public hearing started when some residents objected to MSRDC’s presentation. They demanded an interactive session even as government officials asked them to wait for the presentation to end.
Trouble escalated when NCP activists started raising slogans demanding the flyover be constructed. Activists from both sides then had a verbal confrontation and rushed towards the dais. “These are people who have five cars each and cause congestion. If the government succumbs to pressure and scraps the project it is the middle-class who travel in public transport who will suffer,” Nitin Kadam, an NCP activist, said.
With tempers flaring, the city collector and presiding officer of the hearing CV Oak, at the behest of BJP MLA Manal Prabhat Lodha, adjourned the hearing. Pritish Nandy, Sumaira Abdulali, Shirish Patel, BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, NCP MLC Prakash Binsale and former BJP MLA BA Desai were present at the meet.
MPCB and the city collector have said another hearing would have to be held while MSRDC said there was no need for any more public hearings and it would start the project. “We will have to organise another public hearing. At the moment I cannot say when the next the hearing would be held,” Oak said.