This Dadar footpath wasn't dug up for repairs, but by crooks after copper wire | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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This Dadar footpath wasn't dug up for repairs, but by crooks after copper wire

By, Megha Sood
Jun 11, 2024 04:37 PM IST

The Matunga police have already arrested five men for robbing ₹6 lakh- ₹7 lakh worth of copper wires, which cost ₹845 per kg

Mumbai: The next time you see a dug-up footpath, don’t assume it’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or any other authority’s doing.

Mumbai, India - June 10, 2024. Unknown people dug up the footpath from King Circle to Dada TT and stole an MTNL cable worth 70 lakhs. June 10, 2024. (Photo by Raju Shinde/HT Photo)
Mumbai, India - June 10, 2024. Unknown people dug up the footpath from King Circle to Dada TT and stole an MTNL cable worth 70 lakhs. June 10, 2024. (Photo by Raju Shinde/HT Photo)

A regular follow-up over uprooted paver blocks on a footpath on the Dadar-Matunga stretch of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road led to local residents discovering the theft of copper wire from utility cables laid under the footpath.

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The Matunga police have already arrested five men for robbing 6 lakh- 7 lakh worth of copper wires. Copper costs 845 per kg. Sources said similar thefts could be occurring in other areas where roads are dug up, including Matunga, Kings Circle, Wadala, and Shivaji Park.

It all started when residents approached the BMC after the 2-3-metre-wide footpath between Kings Circle and Dadar TT Circle, among the widest in the island city, was haphazardly dug up in patches.

The BMC had carried out work on the footpath for almost a fortnight and had levelled it up before it was dug up again. After the residents brought this to the BMC’s notice, the civic body sent its staff to check what was happening. That’s when it discovered thieves were stealing copper wires from the utility cables under the footpath.

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“Since there was no sign of reinstating the footpath even after the first week of June ended, I went over to BMC to check the status of completing this work. That’s when I was informed about the theft of copper wires from these cables. The thieves were carrying out the theft after 11 pm by digging the footpath and removing cables. This is shocking as it has happened brazenly,” said Nikhil Desai, Wadala resident and social activist.

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The Matunga police decided to investigate the matter after state-run telecom company MTNL also lodged a complaint alleging that more than 400 of its telephone lines had tripped in the Dadar-Matunga area. “We are still rectifying it. This has majorly happened around Dadar TT Circle, with 105 metres of copper wire worth lakhs of rupees being stolen,” said an MTNL official.

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The police then laid a trap at the spot where the robbers were expected to dig the footpath. “We were waiting for the robbers in private cars, keeping watch on Sunday night. Once they arrived along with the staff of the contractor, we intercepted them and arrested them. The five accused are scrap dealers and had planned to sell the copper wires,” said Deepak Chavan, senior police inspector of Matunga police station.

The police officials investigating the case said the robbers were digging a small portion of the footpath every day. There’s also a possibility of more people being involved in the crime. “The five have other accomplices, as digging the entire stretch was not possible for just five people. We are tracing the others of their gang,” said a police officer from Matunga police station.

An official from BMC said the civic body was baffled by the enormous scale of work on the footpath when nothing was sanctioned either at the ward level or by the relevant departments.

“We got to know of this digging during our regular inspections. As per the process, we intimate the police to keep us posted about any work being carried out at odd hours. We have written a letter to the police about how this work of footpath digging wasn’t identified and have also lodged an FIR against the culprits”, said a BMC officer.

Along with BMC itself, MMRDA, Mahanagar Gas, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, Adani Electricity, Tata Power, and BEST are some agencies that dig up roads to install underground utility cables.

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