As you step out of Kandivli railway station, you are hit by the overwhelming stench of rotting garbage. The hordes of illegal hawkers selling vegetables and fruits near the station have not only made the area filthy by dumping waste indiscriminately, they also crowd the space to such a degree that just walking there has become a struggle for residents.
As you walk further, dodging traffic, garbage and hawkers, you realise you have to start looking out for stray cattle and dung.
Stray animals and illegal hawkers are the two big problems for residents of the R-south ward.
The hawker problem is acute despite there being a municipal market just outside the station. “The only road in Kandivli free of hawkers is Anna Date Road and that is because of the efforts made by residents,” said Atul Vora, core committee member of NGO Citispace.
Ravi Desai, coordinator of the NGO Friends of Slum Self Improver, thinks the solution is to rehabilitate the hawkers instead of just conducting drives and chasing them away. “Hawking is their bread and butter, so they don’t have a choice but to sit on the footpaths. The authorities should rehabilitate them,” he said.
Residents blame the increasing number of stray cattle on the burgeoning number of temples in this western suburb. “Every lane has at least two to three or three temples, with cattle tied outside. The cattle stray all over the place, sometimes sitting in the middle of the road and disrupting traffic,” said Vora. Kandivli has more than 150 temples.
Stray dogs too are a big headache. “It is tough to walk in the night as there are dogs all over the place,” said Vora, adding that despite repeated complaints, the problem has not been addressed.
While housing societies don’t have a water problem, 55% of the suburb’s population lives in slums and faces huge water shortage. The area also does not have a civic or a government hospital.
The ward, with a population of seven lakh people, has one hospital, Shatabdi, which has not been functional for six years. A 300-bed capacity hospital building is being built, and in November, the civic body converted the cafeteria into an out patient department. But more than five years later, work is incomplete. It will take another year before it becomes a fully functional hospital, said civic sources.