Bandra’s Kalanagar was a commuting nightmare on Tuesday. Reason, Supporters of Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray thronged his house to wish him on his 50th birthday.
The stretch lined with hoardings, banners and numerous vehicles parked along the road blocked the traffic. The Kalanagar stretch is an important junction of the Western Express Highway and the Bandra-Kurla Complex. The head office of MHADA is opposite Matoshree, the Thackerays residence.
Hassled residents and commuters were too scared to come on record to speak to the media but the chaos outside Matoshree spilled over on the entire area. From makeshift stage to innumerous banners and Sena leaders’ vehicles parked along the road, the traffic along the stretch crawled. “There was huge crowd as leaders from across the state came to greet Uddhavji,” a Sena spokesperson said.
Residents said with the Thackerays living there for more than 30 years, they are used to these problems, but agreed there needs to be a solution.
“There was a continuous flow of cars and electronic media vans at the Thackeray residence throughout the day. We kept requesting them to park cars elsewhere but as soon as one lot of cars would move, more cars would come in. The traffic jam lasted until late afternoon,” said a senior traffic police official.
A Sena leader said all arrangements were made to monitor the crowd but the response was overwhelming. “Uddhavji has a top security cover and all the arrangements are done by the special branch of the Mumbai police. The police had deployed a traffic inspector and team of constables to manage the traffic outside Matoshree and were requesting party workers not to park vehicles along the road stretch,” he said.
“Everyone, including bureaucrats and officials, know about the menace, but who will bell the cat? Many politicians don’t want hoardings, but they can’t do without it, as their competitor will put it up,” a member of the NGO Loksatta said.
He said the only solution to the problem is to get a citizens’ bill and put pressure on politicians to accept them to end the hoarding menace.
The June order of the Aurangabad High Court had stated that if leaders, who are “eulogised” by party workers are prosecuted for the hoardings that mar the city landscape, it would act as very effective deterrent.