While Khar residents have been running from pillar to post to build a bigger and better local police station, a plot in the same area, which has been partly reserved for a police station, remains ignored.
Slumdwellers have encro-ached upon the 9,000-sqm plot adjacent to St Vincent D Paul Church on Ambedkar Road.
“According to the Development Plan, since 1981, 5,000sqm of the plot was reserved for a playground and 3,000sqm for a police station and the rest to rehabilitate project-affected people,” said activist Raja Bunch, who had made a Right to Information query.
A slum rehabilitation scheme is underway on the plot. “The plot is currently under the possession of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. After redevelopment, the authority will construct a police station and return the plot to the municipal corporation,” said an officer from the H-west ward office, on condition of anonymity.
But Bunch is not convinced. “Not all slums on this plot are prior to 1995, and, thus, are illegal. The municipal corporation should survey such slums and demolish them, instead of… delaying the matter.”
On February 13, the Hindustan Times had reported that commissioner of police Sanjeev Dayal said he may have to recommend the closure of five police stations that are in poor condition, including Khar police station, if they are not rebuilt or relocated.
Subsequently, the Khar Residents’ Association had taken initiative to save their police station, which is located in a structure that used to be a pre-primary school.
“Before starting work on the existing Khar police station in 1988, we had visited the 9,000 sqm plot with then commissioner of police Vasant Saraf. He, too, had ruled out the plot because access to the place was through a highly congested area,” said Anandini Thakoor, managing trustee of the Khar Residents’ Association. “The location of the current police station is appropriate.”
The residents have sought the municipal corporation's permission to procure either the Mhada plot adjacent to the existing police station or the nearby civic health post to merge with the existing structure.
The police department, too, does not seem keen on shifting there.
“We are aware that the plot is reserved for a police station but it was never handed over to our department. We are trying to get the police station at a suitable location,” said Amitabh Gupta, additional commissioner of police (west region).
Civic officials, however, are unaware of the reservation.
“Before making any administrative decision we will check if there is any existing reservation for the facility,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner.
Officials of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority for Khar (west) insisted on checking the details of the plot before commenting on the matter.