The civic body has spent Rs105 crore of the taxpayers’ money in the D-ward maintaining and repairing roads, but civic apathy and sub-standard work by contractors have ensured that the drive is still bumpy.
At least half of the D-ward is known as the VVIP area, with bungalows of the governor, chief minister, deputy chief minister and many other ministers located here. Other than politicians, famous personalities such as Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh Ambani too live in this ward.
However, areas such as Malabar Hill, Carmichael Road, Altamount Road and Girgaum, which are home to some of the richest and most influential people in Mumbai, continue to have bad roads.
Excluding money spent by the central road department to improve roads in this ward, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spent a whopping Rs 105.59 crore on a 58.26-km of roads — the highest in any ward — in the past five years.
The ward, however, was riddled with potholes after the first heavy spell of rain in 2011. Poor roads, lack of parking space, and citizen opposition to the construction of flyovers lead to severe traffic congestion in this ward.
Official statistics state that 25.71% of the residents in this ward have cars. Insufficient parking facilities force people to park their cars on the side of the road, sometimes in double and triple parking, which worsens the already messy traffic situation. “Yes, there is a parking problem in the ward. We are looking for a solution,” said Arvind Bane, BJP corporator.
Some corporators prefer to park their vehicles in the ward compound as they have no space to park it outside their homes.
The BMC blames VIPs for the state of the roads. “If we start major repair or cement-concretisation works to improve the road quality, every day some VIP complains about the traffic congestion. But to cement-concretise a road, it has to be dug up, barricaded and work takes time. We prefer to do road work with paver blocks as it can be completed in a few hours,” said a ward official, on condition of anonymity.
“To avoid traffic, I prefer to go by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road to reach south Mumbai instead of taking Peddar Road,” said Ajit Padwal, a businessman and resident of Dadar.
Several solutions have been proposed to ease the traffic jam at the Haji Ali junction, including setting up decks for multi-level parking and building a 250-metre, two-lane steel deck that would operate as a moveable, elevated road, but none of these projects have taken off. The state government has suggested a flyover on Peddar Road, but the plan is stuck because of opposition from influential local residents.
The area has other issues too, such as redevelopment of dilapidated buildings in Girgaum. Most areas come under the coastal regulation zone, which has become a stumbling block for the redevelopment of old buildings.
Other problems residents face include water-logging in the monsoon, water contamination and old water pipelines.
“The ward is divided into three sections – the western, which consists of elite areas; the central, which is middle-class, and the eastern, which has the lower-income group and market areas,” said Indrani Malkani, trustee, VCitizens Action Network. “The western section has the least difficulties and has decent open spaces and the seashore.”