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Squatters cleared, but they keep coming back

A drive from Worli to Mahim in 20 minutes flat during rush hour will no longer be a dream once it gets encroachment-free, reports Uma Upadhyaya.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2007 06:43 IST

A drive from Worli to Mahim in 20 minutes flat during rush hour will no longer be a dream, provided the civic body manages to make it encroachment-free.

The Senapati Bapat Marg, formerly known as Tulsi Pipe Road, is all set to be cleared of squatters. The road is the first to be cleared as part of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s plans of zero tolerance roads. The road will also be widened by 10 feet.

About four months ago, 1,200 hutments on this road from Mahim to Elphinstone bridge along the road adjacent to western railway line were demolished. This was a blessing for motorists as they could now drive without the fear children staying in roadside shanties running about on the roads.

But, this didn’t last for long as the encroachers have returned.

“We are carrying out action on encroachers. But, we cannot take action on protected hutments, till they are provided with alternate accommodation,” said Assistant Municipal Commissioner Ashwin Khanolkar of G north ward under whose supervision the demolition was carried out.

The BMC began shifting shanties and hawkers two years ago. The road that extends from Mahim to Elphinstone bridge in G (north) ward and Elphinstone to E Moses road in G (south) ward will be a prominent arterial road connecting South Mumbai with the western suburbs.

This road sees traffic snarls throughout the day because it is not wide enough as it has been encroached upon from both sides. Around 3,000 people are being shifted due to demolitions carried out to clear the road. Eligible hutments are given alternate accommodation by the Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA). Last year, 300 houses were made available for Project Affected People (PAPs) by the MMRDA.

On the stretch between Elphinstone road to E Moses Road there are a total 762 encroachments that need to be cleared. Out of this, only 433 would be eligible for allotment of houses under PAPs. So far, the BMC has carried out demolition in two phases where 326 structures have been removed.

According to MD Sawant, assistant municipal commissioner of the G (south) ward, “About 225 eligible hutment dwellers have been provided with alternate accommodation in the first two phases. The next phase will start after a week when we get allotment order for other eligible hutments”.

He also said that construction of footpath is on and around 22 commercial structures have to be rehabilitated. “We have to take action for the encroachers returning,” he added.

After encroachments are cleared, it will be followed by construction of clean footpaths on both sides with paver blocks, green patches and flower beds at regular intervals and dustbins.

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First Published: Feb 16, 2007 06:43 IST