Too many agencies spoil the ward
Buddhist caves dating back to the first century, two of the busiest airports in the country, the city’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the first Metro rail line, a big industrial estate in the heart of the suburb. This diversity is symbolic of the K-east ward’s land usage, where an industrial complex rubs shoulders with an upscale residential area.
But this also means great diversity in the agencies handling the infrastructure and governance of these areas. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), incharge of the Metro rail and the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), the Public Works Department (PWD), the SEEPZ — all are trying to ensure efficient governance.
The result? Rampant misgovernance and citizens not knowing whom to hold accountable. “There are so many organisations working for themselves, against each other. If I have any problem, I don’t know whom to run to,” said James John, local AGNI coordinator.
Among the largest wards in the city, with 15 corporators, the K-east ward is, at best, a work in progress. While locals don’t mind the change, they complain of infrastructure not keeping pace with ‘development’. “Everyone anticipated Bandra-Kurla Complex to be the next big thing in commercial space, but this ward has stolen the show and gone on to become the next Nariman Point,” said activist and resident Pari Berry.
With a floating population of more than 2 lakh, the area faces major traffic snags, especially on the Andheri-Kurla road along which lies the Versova-Ghatkopar Metro rail’s route. “I am barely able to keep my appointments these days. Driving from Andheri East to West takes over an hour,” said Sejal Deshpande, 24, an advertising professional living in Sher-e-Punjab Colony, Andheri (East).
Many also blame the size of the ward for the inefficient civic administration. Sitting corporator and MLA Ravindra Waikar has been repeatedly demanding it’s bifurcation, a need which civic officials also agreed to. “The proposal has been pending for long. We find it very difficult to provide the same quality of civic services to every area in the ward as our resources haven’t been allotted according to the size of the ward,” said a K-east ward civic official.
“We hope that the Metro line and the massive construction of commercial structures will help the area get the infrastructure it deserves,” said John.