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Author: Devashri Bhujbal

Kamala Mills Fire: BMC bulldozes into eateries’ violations

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) went on a razing rampage on illegal extensions in hotel and restaurants across the city. However, it took action only after 14 people lost their lives. The civic administration delayed its action just to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) against illegal use of open spaces on terraces.The BMC in full swing started pulling down illegal extensions in restaurants and shopping malls across Mumbai on Saturday morning and took action on 314 restaurants. It inspected a 624 eateries. BMC also seized more than 417 cylinders from the restaurants which were stored without permissions.In Raghuwanshi compound, four restaurants that faced action were Sheesha, P22, Hotel Payaana and Hotel Fumes.Prashant Sapkale, assistant commissioner of G South ward, who has now been transferred to K East ward said that he had taken action against Mojo’s Bistro in August and September following complaints of violation of open space on the terrace. “We had given three inspection reports to the owner of Mojo’s Bistro as part of the standard operating procedure (SOP) for violation of open space on the terrace and took action on August 2 and September 22,” said Sapkale. He added that he had no other option but to follow the SOP before taking action.Shockingly, the G South ward office forgot to follow the SoP and demolished illegal extension without even serving a notice. “Did the civic body follow SOP while action against these eateries,” said Dinesh Vaghela, a Right to Information Activist (RTI).“At any place where hookah is being served, no food item can be served,” said Vaghela. He added that the civic body violated rules and regulations while granting licence under section 394 of Mumbai Municipal Act.

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Over 4.5K towers aren’t fire safe

None of the high-rises inspected by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) over the last two years was found to have adhered to fire safety norms. They only complied after legal notices were sent to them.As per the data accessed by DNA, the MFB inspected 4647 buildings over the last couple of years — residential and commercial – and all of them were found without fire safety compliance. They have issued notices under Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act 2006 and given 120 days to comply with the fire safety norms. After the warning, 4637 toed the line, while 10 buildings are now being prosecuted as per law.Two incidents of fire are fresh in minds of Mumbaikars – the Bhanu Farsan shop fire in Saki Naka which claimed 12; and Monday’s fire on the 17thfloor of a high-rise at Walkeshwar, the Legend Tower. Bhanu Farsan shop was not fire-safety compliant, while the fire at Legend Tower was easily controlled as the building had functioning fire safety installations.Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale said, “Residents are not serious about fire safety and only install fire safety equipment after we send notices. It is out of fear of prosecution and not safety concerns.” “During inspection, we found that buildings flout basic safety norms such as encroachment on common passage, doors to staircases are closed, water from fire tank is used for domestic purposes,” said a senior MFB officer.Turn to “Some buildings do not have designated entry and exit gates, and while many buildings have firefighting equipment, it is not in working conditions. There will be a faulty or missing knob, rusted pipes or just an inability to operate the equipment,” he added However, residents feel that the Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade fail to create awareness about fire safety and are lenient while granting permissions. Nita Bajpai, general Secretary of Juhu-Vile Parle Residents Association said, “It is true that most residents do not take fire safety seriously, but it also the work of the Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade to create awareness through campaigns. Buildings should have fire-fighting installations and do regular servicing to keep it operational. It also cannot be rejected that authorities sanction building permissions when the locality does not provide sufficient space for fire brigade in case of emergency.”

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BMC blames socio-economic problems for Andheri farsan shop fire

A day after 12 people were charred in a fire at an illegal condiment factory in Sakinaka, the civic body on Tuesday tried to shrug off its responsibility by attributing the tragedy to a combination of several issues.Political pressure, court cases and government failure in checking illegal supply of electricity and gas cylinders for commercial purposes the hurdles that it faces in controlling unauthorised businesses in the city, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.”It is a socio-economic problem that people come to Mumbai to do odd jobs. The workers who died on Monday were from north India,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Bharat Marathe. The Bhanu condiment factory on Khairani Road was too small to operate as a factory and accommodate 20 people, said Marathe, the in-charge of civic affairs for the area.And the issues span across Mumbai, he said. “It is a reality that 60 percent of the city have the same scenario.” Regular inspections and strict action are the need of the hour, he said.Vote-bank politics undo all the efforts of the civic body, said a BMC official, who did not wish to be named. “We are under immense political pressure to not take action in slums. It is only after court orders that we can do something.” He said only a handful of politicians allow the BMC to do its work in good faith.Resource crunch is another impediment, said the second official. “We lack staff in sanitary inspections, factory and licence departments. One person can inspect maximum 20 shops per day but in Mumbai depending on the area ranging from 60 to 200 illegal small scale businesses come up every day. Many a times we don’t even come to know that some businesses start and even closes after few months. Even if we take the owner to court, high court penalises him sometimes with just Rs 500 and the illegal business continues”, he said.BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who has written to the BMC chief after Monday’s tragedy, said he has demanded inspection at all condiment factories in Mumbai. “It may be true that some politicians don’t allow BMC action, but it is not important at the moment. We have to look forward that such incidences should not occur and innocent should not lose their lives”.

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Structural audit conducted for only 10% buildings

The BMC has revealed that only 10.72 per cent of societies in C/Ward, where a building collapsed on Friday, have submitted their structural audit reports in the last two years,Senior civic officials told DNA that not more than 20 per cent of the societies in the city submit their structural audit reports to the BMC, risking the lives of their inhabitants.Assistant Municipal Commissioner of C/Ward, J Ghegadmal, said, “In the last two years, a total of 1,454 notices were served to make a structural audit. However, only 156 societies have submitted their structural audit reports to us.By not auditing the structure of the old building, residents risk their own lives. Two years ago, section 353 B of MMC Act was amended where failure to audit invited strict action and prosecution.”The BMC sends notices for the audit to all buildings more than 30 years old under section 353 B of the Act. Following the notice, the buildings have to carry out repairs or if found in a dangerous condition, an evacuation notice is sent.”BMC looks after the structural audit of only 1,200 private buildings. For 4,500 cessed buildings, MHADA does not carry out a proper audit but only a visual inspection as it lacks funds for a structural audit. Hence, the spurt in collapse incidents in MHADA buildings,” a civic official said.Anil Ankalgi Resident Executive Engineer of MHADA accepted that MHADA only carried out a structural survey before the monsoon season.”Like in C/Ward, only 10 per cent of the societies have submitted their structural audit reports. the situation is more or less the same in the city. Of the total notices served, we re-send them to the buildings which are in a bad condition. However, the tenants are sentimental about the property and appoint their own auditor apart from the municipal auditor. It becomes difficult to ascertain which ones are actually dangerous,” a senior BMC official said, requesting anonymity.

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Devotees cheer govt’s decision to take over Mumbadevi temple

Its a good news for the devotees of the Mumbadevi, as the Mumbadevi temple is soon likely to get facilities like extended temple premises, food stalls, parking space, better sanitary facilities among others, following the government’s decision to appoint a trustee after making a legislation.“The temple has a great historical importance for the Mumbai city, however, the trust maintaining the temple is not serving the Mumbadevi devotees properly,” alleged local MLA Raj Purohit.Purohit since last two years has been saying that the Mumbadevi temple trust is corrupt, mismanaged and does not give required facilities to the thousands of devotees who visit the temple daily. Following the demand that the trustees now will be appointed by the state government.Speaking to DNA MLA Purohit said, “It is not only the appointment of a trustee by the government, but there is a big piece of land costing Rs 5000 crore next to the temple. The state government will acquire the plot and build facilities like bhakt niwas, parking space, a restaurant, tea stalls and better sanitary facilities will be provided”.However, manager of Mumbadevi temple, Hemant Jadhav said, “There is no communication to us till now. When the government will approach us, then only I can comment on why they want to appoint another trustee”.Rajhans Tapke, general secretary of Koli Mahasangh said, “We are very happy that government is acquiring the temple trust. It is a historic decision. Mumbadevi is our patron deity and has a lot of importance for Mumbai. However, we want that the government should hand over the trust to us (Koli Mahasangh) and we will maintain the temple and preserve its historical importance”.Kalpana Mate a regular devotee of Mumbadevi said, “Yes, we have to stand in a queue. If we get more toilets, tea stalls and space to sit on the premises after offering prayers will be nice. The temple is in a very congested area”.

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BMC Tree Authority an only neta club as tree expert slots lie vacant

Following the death of Sharda Ghodeswar by a sudden tree fall in Chembur last week, questions were raised about the casual and unscientific inspection that the city civic authority conducts. The various causes experts quoted were haphazard cutting, over concretization and planting of non native trees in the city. The city civic body BMC has a dedicated tree authority whose role is to protect and preserve the trees in Mumbai and take action against illegal tree cutting and trimming. However, information has come to fore that the authority does not have a single tree expert as its member and all the decisions are taken only by elected civic representatives from various parties.The BMC’s Tree Authority has 15 members including ivic chief Ajoy Mehta. The present tree authority was made in March 2017 after the BMC elections and has 6 members of Shiv Sena, 5 members of BJP, two from Congress and one from NCP. While, all 10 positions for the tree experts are lying vacant.”The state government’s social forestry department does not have any registered NGO in Mumbai zone to select tree experts from them”, said Sanvi Tandel, Shiv Sena corporator who head’s the BMC’s Garden committee. “The authority can be run under the chairmanship of municipal commissioner”, Tandel added.While, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens), Kishore Kshirsagar said, “Till last year, the tree authority had passed a resolution that tree experts can be appointed from the NGO’s by putting ward wise notices. However, this authority has not yet passed any such resolution and thus the positions of the tree experts are vacant”.”If the tree authority, who is responsible for taking all decisions on trees in Mumbai has no expert, a person who will scientifically raise concerns on green cover, give opinion on tree cutting, trimming and transplantation from a technical and botanical angle, how will the decisions be partial ? A tree authority without a tree expert makes no sense at all. The political parties just don’t want any environmentalists interference in their decisions on haphazard tree cutting for their upcoming projects because of which they are not filling the positions reserved for experts”, said Zoru Bathena an environment activist who has been fighting against extensive tree cutting for metro projects in Mumbai.TREE TALKMANOJ KOTAKBJP group leaderNo NGO’s fit in the norms laid by the state government on the tree experts recruitment which includes forestation experience and many others. That is why till now no experts are appointed. Last year, we had relaxed the criterias and had appointed the members. But this year, we are yet to take the decision if to relax the norms because of which as of now there are no tree experts in the authority”.VISHWANATH MAHADESHWARMayorThe appointment of tree experts in the tree authority is important. The experts have their opinions are also necessary while taking any decision by the tree authority. The tree authority last year did have experts and we will see that the appointment of the tree experts in this tree authority is done soon”.DR NILESH BAXIAn enviornmentalist and former member of tree authority allegedDecisions like appointing tree experts as members, tree cutting, trimming and transplantation is just a political racket. All the decisions are taken for money and profit. All the political party members are anti-naturalists. They don’t want an expert as a member as they will put down their feet on every project and they don’t want any interference.ONE, TWO, TREE29.75lakh Total trees in Mumbai13.9lakh Native trees15.8lakh Non-native trees450 Variety of treesMORE NUMBERS2 times a year BMC conducts audit of trees939 Tree collapse incidences in city this year4 Death due to tree fall this yearWHY DO TREES COLLAPSE?Over concretisation Paving Damage of roots while laying the utilities Improper and loose earth filling after laying utilities Improper trimming causing the tree to loose its balance No modern equipment to find out tree health

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Monorail system not effective to tackle blazes: Fire brigade report

Battling a blaze on the elevated monorail corridor may not be effective, the city’s fire brigade has said in a report on its probe into last month’s fire at Mysore Colony station. The Mumbai Fire Brigade began an investigation after a fire broke out in an empty coach in Mahul on November 9. Since then, the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority has suspended the monorail services.In its report, a copy of which has been accessed by DNA, the fire brigade has said that the procedures laid down by the operator to fight fires appear effective only on paper. It says certain locations on the route are inaccessible, and raises concern about commuters’ safety during a fire. The report has recommended measures for fire prevention, including installation of automatic fire extinguishers under each car. City’s Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale said the problem can get worse if people are stranded on the elevated corridor. “Monorail has poor accessibility to roads due to its geographical conditions.”When it comes to fire, transport expert Sudhir Badami said, monorail is more dangerous compared with the metro. “The chances of fatalities are highest as coaches being smaller the fire will spread faster.”

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BMC, Central Railway seek IIT aid to check track-flooding

After they failed to finalise an amicable solution to widen drains at six chronic waterlogging locations on the Central Railway, the BMC and the CR have now sought the help of the Indian Institute of Technology to address technical difficulties.BMC’s stormwater drain department and the CR were wary of the method to be used for widening the drains at Currey road, Chinchpokli, Mulund and three locations between Sion and Kurla. These areas see severe waterlogging every monsoon which affects CR services.While the CR wants the civic body to widen the drains only through micro-tunneling, two metres below the tracks so that rail traffic is not affected, BMC says the method is technically unfeasible.”We have decided to take help of IIT to help us to find an amicable solution. We have already written to IIT’s civil engineering department and will hold a joint meeting soon”, said SWD department’s Chief Engineer V Khandkar.

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Tree fall death: No FIR filed yet

The mother and three kids of Sharda Ghodeswar, 45, who died on Thursday after a tree fell upon her were inconsolable, as her body was brought home after the postmortem. Ghodeswar, who was the only bread earner of the family died instantly when a 40 feet tree fell upon the garden bench that she was sitting on.Following the incident, the Ghodeswar family and residents of Chembur have been demanding FIR against the gardens department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for their negligence. However, the police and BMC have both brushed away their responsibilities. The Chembur Resident’s Group (CRG) met officials of the Govandi police station and urged to file an FIR against BMC’s Superintendent of Gardens for criminal negligence.However, the police refused to file an FIR saying that the investigation was still on. Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Bharat Marathe said, “The death is due to natural calamity and garden’s department has promised Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the family of deceased in ten days time.”Chembur citizens have urged BMC in a written correspondence that it does not have any mechanism to check the health of the tree and the officers just leave at a cursory survey of the trees.”How can the officer know if the tree is healthy by just looking at it. In July, after the death of another Chembur resident Kanchan Nath, who died after a tree fell on her, the Gardens officer promised to inspect the trees in Chembur.This is still pending,” said Manish Gangurde from CRG.

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New contractor for beach-cleaning soon

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has floated a tender to appoint a new contractor for ‘comprehensive management of cleanliness’ of Versova beach.The BMC this time has decided to levy three times the fine slapped on a contractor if the beach is not found cleaned. “At present, the contractor is paid around Rs 4.5 lakh monthly for picking up garbage from Versova beach.However, out of that the civic body deducts 20 per cent as fine. We have asked for more machinery and manpower from the new contractor, and additional charges will be paid for cleaning during festivals. The beach has to be cleaned for 365 days without any holiday,” said K-West ward officer Prashant Gaikwad.The contractor will have to clean and maintain the 3-km Versova beach and the 1.5-km jetty round the clock for a period of seven years. According to BMC’s Solid Waste Management Deputy Chief Engineer Vikas Rajwadkar, “The present Trimurti Contractors JV has limit of collecting garbage up to 6 metric tonnes per day. But in reality, the Versova beach has 20 to 25 metric tonnes of garbage daily. Thus, the cleaning activity lacks. The new contractor will have to collect 20 to 25 metric tonnes garbage per day and the quantity will be more during monsoon and festivals”.Activist Afroz Shah, who with his volunteers started a citizen movement to clean up the beach, said, “This is the best decision BMC has taken.”TASK AT HANDThe contractor will have to clean and maintain the 3-km Versova beach and the 1.5-km jetty for a period of seven years. The BMC this time has decided to levy three times the fine slapped on a contractor if the beach is not found cleaned. At present, the contractor is paid around Rs 4.5 lakh monthly.
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Ockhi prompts safety steps at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar

The Chaityabhoomi near Dadar chowpatty every year sees lakhs of people across the state camping on December 6 to pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary. Considering the Indian Meteorological department’s warning of Ockhi cyclone approaching the coast of Maharashtra, the authorities have deployed 45 National Defence Response Force (NDRF) personnel and 15 personnel of Mumbai Fire Brigade at Dadar chowpatty from Monday as a precautionary measure.Mumbai has already witnessed showers and may get more rains considering the movement of cyclone towards northwest India.Ambedkar followers from across the state and nation start gathering at Chaitybhoomi from December 5 itself. Considering the public gathering and their safety from the coast, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sounded a high alert. “We have written to NDRF to provide teams at Dadar chowpatty while Fire Bridage, Navy and Coast Guards have also been alerted. A team comprising 45 personnel of NDRF has already been deployed at Chairtyabhoomi-Dadar chowpatty on Monday,” informed Chief Officer of BMC’s Disaster Management Unit.PS Rahangdale, Chief Officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade, said: “We deploy personnel for security on December 6 ever year. But this year, considering the cyclone warning and weather conditions, we have already deployed 15 Fire Brigade personnel and 2 coast guards.”“As many Ambedkar followers, after paying tribute at Chaityabhoomi, visit the Juhu beach, we have already deployed fire brigade personnel at Juhu beach as well for their security,” Rahangdale added.MAHAPARINIRVAN DINDecember 6 is the 61st death anniversary, the ‘Mahaparinirvan Din’ of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Lakhs of people travel to Dadar’s Chaityabhoomi to pay tribute to Ambedkar’s memorial. The BMC and the police are put on high alert every year considering the huge number of people camping at the place.
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GD Somani to share neighbourhood with civic school

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Education department is set with its design plan to construct a two-storey school next to GD Somani Memorial School in Cuffe Parade.The civic body is now in process of obtaining clearances from the Coastal Regulatory Zone, the Defence and other concerned agencies before finalising the design plan.In 1985, the Somani Trust was given the 5736 sqm plot owned by the BMC, where the GD Somani school is currently located, to construct two school buildings of which one of the buildings constructed on the plot would be handed over to the BMC to run a municipal school. However, it never materialised, and the remaining area plot is now being used by GD Somani school for parking school buses.The local Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Arvind Sawant, however, alleges that the BMC school has not come up because of political pressures from the local Member of Legislative Assembly BJP’s Raj Purohit and his support for Somani trust.But the BMC was delayed in its plan to construct a municipal school in Cuffe Parade even after the 2011 Bombay High Court giving the BMC the go-ahead to construct the school building on the land.However, rejecting all allegations from the Shiv Sena, Purohit said, “A civic school should definitely come and there is no political pressure. It is just lack of willingness on the part of the BMC. If anyone approaches me, I will definitely help speed up the procedure to build a civic school there.”A senior civic official said, “I have sent the design plan of the two-storey school with including an auditorium. It is the BMC’s plot and a school will definitely come up there. It may take time to obtain required clearances but the school will be built.”However, DN Seymour, Principal of GD Somani school, said, “I only found out today that a civic school is proposed on the plot. The area has always been used to park school buses. I will talk to the trustee to find out more about the issue.”IN THE DARKWhen asked, DN Seymour, Principal of GD Somani school, said, “I only found out today that a civic school is proposed on the plot. The area has always been used to park school buses. I will talk to the trustee to find out more about the issue.”
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Access denied

Last week the general body of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) passed an interim policy for the city’s open spaces, allowing citizen groups, non-government organisations (NGO) and private organisations to maintain playgrounds, recreation grounds and gardens. The policy allows them to maintain the city’s open spaces for a contractual period of 11 months as long as they adhere to the BMC’s rules, including non-discriminatory access to all citizens, without charging any money.Last year, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had given directions to reclaim all the 216 open plots which were given to private entities on adoption basis for maintenance. The objective was to allow indiscriminate access for common public at no cost and prevent the commercial exploitation of the policy. Following this, the civic body started reclaiming its recreational grounds, playgrounds and gardens.The interim policyAccording to the interim policy, private bodies can maintain open spaces as long as they provide non-discriminatory access, and free entry to citizens. The BMC disallows commercial or political activities on these plots. Under the policy, interested parties will have to apply to the BMC to adopt an open space and will have to strictly adhere to BMC’s conditions. The application will have to be sent to a ward-level committee — comprising civic officials — which will scrutinise their eligibility and allot the spaces accordingly. The BMC is entitled to take back the plots without any notice.Moreover, the caretakers will have to ensure that no construction is carried out on these plots, failing which they will lose the plots to the BMC. The entities will have to create large boards informing citizens that the open space is accessible to everyone and is free of cost. The BMC’s move on the interim policy comes at a time when 28 plots are yet to be reclaimed. Civic activists, and the Congress and NCP corporators have slammed the decision saying that the corporation has gone against the CM’s directives and passed the policy in haste. They allege that, of the 28 plots, most are in the possession of leaders in the BJP and Shiv Sena, and the corporation wants to benefit them by being lenient in reclaiming the plots.DNA visited a few BMC plots which the civic body has failed to reclaim. Despite being civic plots, in many cases, not all citizens are not granted free entry. The plots are also commercially exploited.Thakur ShyamNarayan High SchoolThakur Village, KandivliThe Kandivli East-based school is run by Thakur Education Trust. The 2,177 sq m plot next to the school has been reserved by the BMC as a playground. As per the document available with DNA, the plot is maintained by M/s Shyam Narayan Thakur School. Besides using the plot as a ground for its schoolchildren, the school has rented the ground to groups to play box cricket and football. The rental charges are: Rs 1,000 on weekday mornings and 1,500 per hour on weekday evenings. During weekends, the ground can be rented out in the day for Rs 1,800, and Rs 2,000 per hour on weekend evenings. The employees deployed on the ground told this reporter that one cannot play on the ground without any advance booking. The playground is free for Thakur school students, and for those who are ready to pay a hefty amount on hourly basis.The employees are aware that the plot belongs to the BMC, and that the civic body has served notice to handover the plot.Resident voiceThe Thakur Trust has sublet the plot and exploits it commercially. No construction is allowed on the plot but they have constructed turfs. Even for playing football one has to shell out Rs 3,000 per hour, which is not only expensive but illegal. They do not allow free entry to play any sport. —Alok Choudhary Official speakWe have received the BMC’s notice to handover the plot and the handing over procedure is going on.— Ram Singh Thakur, ex-MLA of Kandivli, BJPSt Xavier’s groundParelThe St Xavier’s ground in Parel which is adopted by Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA), of which Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray is President, is a 16,000 sq m recreational ground of the BMC. But, it is open to public for only two hours in the morning and evening. Resident voiceThe MDFA has kept the ground open for two hours in the morning and evening, but people in the vicinity are not aware about it. The MDFA rents the ground and makes money out of it. MDFA is headed by Aditya Thackeray and Shiv Sena itself has passed the open space policy benefiting them. The MDFA will simply apply for extension of 11 months and the common public will never be able to utilise the open space.—Nikhil DesaiOfficial SpeakThere is no question of handing over the ground. It is adopted by the MDFA and according to BMC’s rule, we have applied to the Municipal Commissioner for extension.—U Banerjee, Secretary of Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA)Dilip Vengsarkar Cricket AcademyChembur WestThe cricket ground at the Dilip Vengsarkar academy, which is spread over 19,506 sq m, is a BMC-reserved playground which is being maintained by the Dilip Vengsarkar Foundation. The foundation is yet to hand over the ground to the civic body. If one has to play cricket here, the ground can be hired at Rs 30,000 per day.When DNA visited the ground, the employees said that the cricket ground is booked for weekends for the entire year. The academy, allows the teams of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to practice for free, a coach training the women’s cricket team informed.Resident voiceDilip Vengsarkar adopted the plot as a garden plot but has developed a playground only for his academy. Many SRA buildings are coming up in the area, but no one has access to the ground. The academy earns crores of rupees annually through rent. How can a BMC plot be allowed to exploit commercially.—Rajkumar SharmaDespite attempts, Dilip Vengsarkar was unavailable for comments. Poisar GymkhanaKandivli WestThe Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Kridangan is a 40,805 sq m-BMC plot reserved as playground. As one enters the ground, one cannot miss the instruction boards which have stipulated jogging timings, what not to wear inside the premises, and a message that reads ‘Only for Life Members’. The Poisar Gymkhana has been developed under the leadership of BJP MP Gopal Shetty. Even as a caretaker of the BMC plot, the M/s Poisar Gymkhana offers various activities and facilities for all but with a price tag and restrictions. Jogging fees ranges from Rs 77 to Rs 1,475 depending on the time period. The fees to use the gym for non-members ranges from Rs 472 to Rs 4,248 depending on the time period.Resident voiceThe Gymkhana offers numerous activities but at hefty rates, which is a violation of civic rules. If they are giving facilities by charging money, then what is the use of it being a public plot?—Vasant PatilOfficial speakI am out of town for the last 4-5 days, and I am not aware about handing over of the plot. Our gymkhana offers entry to all.—Mukesh Bhandari, President of the managing committee of Poisar GymkhanaVeer Savarkar UdyanBorivli WestThe Veer Savarkar Garden is a 25,395 sq m garden plot of the BMC which is maintained by M/s Poisar Gymkhana. The garden offers facilities — like a jogging track, and seasonal boating on the lake developed by the Gymkhana among others. Joggers have to pay Rs 2 per person to access the garden during the morning and evening peak hours. For other visitors during the day, the charge is Rs 5. The garden has hundreds of visitors daily. In the afternoon, many college students visit the lake but only after they have paid a price. A huge board has been fixed at the entrance gate, with a message from MP Gopal Shetty expressing his joy that the BMC has agreed to give the garden to gymkhana for maintenance. However, officials from BMC said that the garden is a civic plot and is yet to be handed over by Gymkhana.An employee at the garden on condition of anonymity said, “The BMC says that even if you have adopted the plot you have to run the garden for free of cost. When the garden was developed people paid around Rs 18,000 for membership. Our monthly electricity bills cost at least Rs 50,000, and the garden employees appointed by the trust are yet to be paid. If we run the garden for free, how will we bear all these expenses? So, BMC agreed to give the plot to the Gymkhana for maintenance.”Resident VoiceFirst of all, it is a public plot so no entry fee should be charged. But the gymkhana has told the BMC that they charge only Rs 2 but actually in daytime they charge Rs 5. If the caretaker is already giving the plot for commercial activities, they earn from it, there is no reason to charge entry fee.— Meera KamathOfficial speakI have been calling the BMC officials since last year to take over the plot as per their policy. We are ready to handover both the plots whenever the BMC officials are ready to take it and maintain it themselves. —Gopal Shetty, MP28 plots to be reclaimed by BMCSurakha Garden, Cuffe ParadeCPRA Garden, Cuffe ParadeSabina Chandrashekhar ground, Opp Regal Cinema, ColabaPriyadarshani Park, NapeanSea RoadAmarsons Garden, Bhulabhai Desai RoadSt Xaviers Playground, ParelPlayground adjacent to 71/72 Sion Estate, SionMai Mangeshkar Gardem, Shivaji ParkChhatrapati Sambhaji Garden, Khar WestMeenatai Thackeray Maidan, SVP Road, Andheri EastGround near Gayatri Apartment, Chakala, Andheri EastGround near Mara village, Juhu, JVPD schemeKarmayogi Pushpakant Anant Mhatre Playground, Mara village, Juhu JVPD schemeGround opposite Santosh Nagar, Chincholi Village, Gokuldham, Goregaon EastGround near Varsi hill, near Rustamji Complex, Malad WestGurunanak Garden, Tilak Nagar Road, Goregaon WestSheila Raheja Garden, Khadakpada, Dindoshi, Malad EastChhatrapati Shivaji Ground, Kajupada, Kurla WestGround near Vatsalatai Naik Nagar, Suman Nagar, ChemburGarden at Mahul, Chembur West (Dilip Vengsarkar cricket ground)Garden plot in Mahaveer nagar, Kandivli WestShyam Narayan Singh Thakur Manoranjan Maidan, Near Thakur Vidya Mandir, Thakur ComplexNetaji Subhash Chandra Bose Kridangan, Poinsar Gymkhana, Kandivli WestGround next to Shyam Narayan School, Opp Dream Park, Kandivli EastGround in Parekh Nagar, Spring club, Kandivli WestGround in Parekh Nagar, Kandivli WestSwatantryaveer Sawarkar Garden, Borivli WestGarden at Devidas Junction, D P Road, Goregaon West
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consecwq tetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore
Yogi Adityanath

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Remembering 26/11: Our community has ostracised us

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Natwarlal Rotawan’s daughter was shot in her leg at the gruesome 26/11 attacks and had to undergo six surgeries. But if that was not enough reason to grieve about, Rotawan and his family have been outcast by friends and extended relatives because they witnessed the attacks.Rotawan was with his nine-year-old daughter Devika, and 14-year-old son, Jayesh, at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) on the evening of November 26, 2008, when terrorists Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail fired indiscriminately.On that fateful evening, the Rotawan family was waiting to board a train to Pune when they heard a loud explosion. Jayesh ran in one direction to secure himself while Natwarlal and Devika looked for cover in the opposite direction when Kasab shot a bullet that hit Devika’s leg. She was the youngest eyewitness deposed in court to identify Kasab.Recalling his distress Rotawan said, “We have a joint family of more than 100 people in Sumerpur village, Rajasthan. However, our family neither allows us inside the house nor have they invited us to any functions in last nine years. Pakistan border is less than 40 km from our village and our family fears that they may be attacked by terrorists if we stay with them. Whenever we visit Rajasthan, we stay in a private hotel. I lost my mother three years ago, but my family did not call me. My nephew is getting married on December 4, but we haven’t been invited to the wedding ceremony,” he shared.”We have been ostracised from the business community too, he added.

Kala Ghoda open art street gears up for ‘Peace’ theme event on 26/11

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The open art gallery on K Dubash Marg at Kala Ghoda is geared up for its second event on November 26. The theme decided by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is ‘Peace’, on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of 26/11 Mumbai’s terror attacks.In its second innings, the street will have 30 stalls for artists instead of 21. “For the November 26 event, the civic body and the MTDC have got an overwhelming response and all the stalls are booked by artists. The theme is ‘Peace’ and we are giving preferences to performing artists than exhibitions,” said Swati Kale, General Manager of MTDC.This Sunday, of the 30 stalls, 10 are for Bollywood theme performers, five stalls for Kolbat Art based on the 26/11 theme, and the remaining stalls for Warli and Mandali art, spray painting, jewellery art, and street magic.The 250-metre long open gallery has 21 stalls of 15×15 foot each, rented at Rs 200 per day, giving the city’s upcoming artists a prime platform to showcase their work. The art street will remain open from 11 am to 6 pm every Sunday till May 2018.

Now, theatres in civic markets

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first of its kind step, a municipal market in the city will be redeveloped to accommodate facilities like an auditorium, theatres, multiple-floor parking slots, doctors’ staff quarters and many other facilities. The Topiwala municipal market located in Goregaon West, which is only a ground-floor structure accommodating 206 licensed shops, will be redeveloped into a 16-storey building. It will have a market on 2 floors and rest of the floors will be utilised for accommodating the said facilities.The project is estimated to cost Rs 122.90 crore and tender for appointing a contractor for the proposed redevelopment has already been floated by the BMC city engineering department.Sangita Hansale, Assistant Municipal Commissioner (Markets), said, “It is a first of its kind plan where a municipal market is being redeveloped with facilities like an auditorium, drama theatres and the top floors will be utilised as residential staff quarters for doctors. BMC has a couple of other municipal markets in its scheme of things with the same plan. However, the plan for the Topiwala market is the first to be finalised.”According to the design plan, the redeveloped Topiwala market will have 16 floors with two basements. It will have markets on ground and first floor and three podiums. The market building will also have drama theatres and allied users from its 4th to 8th floors. The doctors’ staff quarters will be from the 10th to 16th floor. There will be a total 53 staff quarters. The building will also have a parking facility for 186 vehicles with other amenities.THE THINGS TO COMEAccording to the design plan, the redeveloped market will have 16 floors with two basements. It will have markets on ground and first floor and three podiums. The building will also have theatres and doctors’ staff quarters will be from the 10th to 16th floor.

Brace for more traffic snarls at Hindmata junction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hindmata in Parel is one of the most chronic waterlogging spots in Mumbai every monsoon. Even when there was severe water-logging in the city after heavy rains on August 29, Hindmata experienced water-logging for a much longer period than other areas where water had receded. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is finally going to carry out augmentation of the stormwater drains (SWD) at Hindmata junction to increase the rainwater draining capacity so that such flooding is not seen in the future.However, Hindmata Junction is already known for its traffic jams, and as road excavation by the stormwater drains department is expected to begin here next month, motorists will have to brace for even more traffic snarls in the area.The BMC will excavate road right from the B J Devrukhkar road at Hindmata to Madkebuwa chowk along Dr BA Road. The work includes converting the curved arc drain in the area to an RCC box drain, which will be around 800 meters long, to facilitate faster drainage of water. The drain will be widened from 1.5 x 1.2 meters to 3 x 1.5 metres which will increase its rainwater draining capacity and give relief from waterlogging at Hindmata.”However, traffic problems in the area due to work is unavoidable and we will carry out work in coordination with the Mumbai Traffic police”, chief engineer of SWD department, Vidyadhar Khandkar said.Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Amitesh Kumar said: “We will deploy more traffic police officers and additional traffic wardens in the area for traffic management”.Ajay Shete, a shop owner, said, “I travel every day to Hindmata market and take 30 minutes in an usual traffic at Hindmata junction. Now, when one lane will get shut for BMC work, it will take over an hour to cross the place. But as solving the severe waterlogging issue at Hindmata, there is no option but to bear the traffic woes”.The stormwater drain at Hindmata is at least 70 years old, curved and at certain locations has roots of the trees entered into the drains. “No work has happened at Hindmata junction since the British era. We have strengthened the SWD and did thorough desilting from Baristernath Pai Road to Britannia pumping station. It has eased the waterlogging in the areas nearby Hindmata junction. This is, however, the first time that work is carried at the exact water logging location”, an officer said.The work is expected to begin next month and will continue for the next 18 months. The proposal is expected to be tabled in Standing committee next week.ROAD RECOVERYBMC will excavate road right from the B J Devrukhkar road at Hindmata to Madkebuwa chowk along Dr BA Road. Drain will be widened from 1.5 x 1.2 meters to 3 x 1.5 mts which will increase its rainwater draining capacity and give relief from waterlogging.

Mumbai Central station skywalk awaits Western Railway nod

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the need for better crowd management at and around railway stations has been in focus since the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station that saw 23 persons die, a skywalk proposed outside Mumbai Central railway station is languishing on paper as a No Objection Certificate is awaited for the project from Western Railway.BMC’s D ward in 2016 had proposed a skywalk from Sane Guruji Marg directly connecting the two railway foot-overbridges (FOB) of Mumbai Central railway station. Around 90m long, the skywalk would have save commuters the trouble of crossing the road, giving them direct access to the railway platform. However, citing feasibility issues, the Western Railway (WR) has not sanctioned the No Objection Certificate.Assistant Municipal Commissioner of D-Ward, Vishwas Mote said, “In the past six months, there has been written communication with the Railways, but due to feasibility issues cited by them, the project didn’t take off. The skywalk will help in crowd management outside Mumbai Central railway station. The skywalk was proposed under a comprehensive traffic management project outside the station”.Another civic officer added, “The Western Railway asked for a ticket counter and public toilet on the skywalk which was not part of our project. The proposal has not been scrapped, but has been halted. The skywalk will help reduce traffic snarls outside Mumbai Central railway station. Now all commuters’ cross the road at Sane Guruji Marg, which obstructs road traffic. The skywalk will allow commuters to directly join the railway FOB and allow smooth flow of vehicular traffic outside the station”.Commenting on the skywalk proposal, WR spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar said, “I am not aware of this proposal. I will have to check with the concerned department what the reasons are if the proposal is not given the nob by the WR”.According to BMC’s presentation, which DNA has been able to access, Mumbai Central railway station has around 7,500 pedestrians from 7 to 10 am, while it has 10,500 pedestrians from 5.30 to 9pm.BMC already has the provision of Rs 50 lakh in its 2014-15 budget set aside for the proposed skywalk.NEWS IN NUMBERSAccording to BMC’s presentation, which DNA has been able to access, Mumbai Central railway station has around 7,500 pedestrians from 7 to 10 am, while it has 10,500 pedestrians from 5.30 to 9pm. BMC already has the provision of Rs 50 lakh in its 2014-15 budget set aside for the proposed skywalk.

Kala Ghoda’s open art gallery to reopen on Sunday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The open art gallery on K Dubash Marg in Kala Ghoda is slated to reopen this Sunday, with 11 slots booked by artisans for the first day of exhibition, which will remain open from 11 am to 6 pm every Sunday till May 2018.The 250-metre long open gallery has 21 boxes of 15×15 foot each, rented at Rs 200 per day, giving the city’s upcoming artists a prime platform to showcase their work.Brainchild of Yuva Sena Chief Aditya Thackeray, the gallery which was inaugurated in October 2016 had been receiving a lukewarm response from artists leading the BMC to rope in Maharashtra Tourism and Development Corporation (MTDC) to promote the space.As of Monday, BMC had received 11 participants for the first exhibition which includes cartoonists, sculpturists, painters, and handicraft artists among others. “Many artists are keen on showcasing their talent at the gallery and we have been receiving several queries. It is an open platform meant for young talent which is why many upcoming artists and students from the city are approaching us,” said Swati Kali, general manager, MTDC.The BMC has also launched a page on Facebook (http://m.facebook.com/mcskalaghoda) for the gallery where interested artists can register themselves.For Sunday’s exhibition, BMC has also planned to beautify the nearby Jehangir Art Gallery Chowk. Saturday evening onward, K Dubash Marg will remain shut for motorists.

Over 100 families vacate Bhendi Bazaar dilapidated homes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The collapse of the 117-year-old Hussaini Building in Bhendi Bazaar, which claimed 33 lives, has served as a wake-up call for tenants residing in other dilapidated buildings in the area.In just two months since the tragedy struck, more than 100 families have evacuated their homes and shifted to temporary accommodation provided by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), the authority undertaking the re-development of 250 building in Bhendi Bazaar which are cessed properties of the Maharashtra Housing Area and Development Authority (MHADA).After the Hussaini building collapse, SBUT and MHADA conducted an audit of all the buildings in Bhendi Bazaar which are under cluster development, and declared them unfit to reside in. Fresh notices were also issued for evacuation. Of a total of 250 buildings in the area which are part of the cluster development, over 90 buildings have already been demolished and some are under demolition.”In two months’ time, more than 100 families have vacated their homes. However, there are more than 1000 families who are yet to evacuate the dilapidated buildings and shift to the temporary accommodation provided by SBUT. The structural audit carried out by MHADA after the Hussaini building collapse has shown all buildings in the area structural weak and unfit to stay in”, said a spokesperson from SBUT.Despite attempts, MHADA spokesperson Vaishali Wagh was unavailable for comment.Assistant Municipal Commissioner of C ward, Jivak Ghegadmal said, “The SBUT submitted to us a copy of the fresh notice served to all the dilapidated buildings in Bhendi Bazaar. It is stated in the notice that the building is unfit to stay in, and if any collapse takes place, SBUT won’t be responsible”.The Bhendi Bazaar cluster development project covers 250 buildings and the project is spread over 16 acres. A total of 3,200 families are affected parties in the project, of whom more than 2000 families have been rehabilitated. However, shifting the remaining families, whose lives are at risk, is a challenge for MHADA and SBUT.The SBUT spokesperson added, “Lives are at risk because of vested interests of handful of people, . All the buildings are 100 years old, and unfit for living. However, people don’t realize it. Unfortunately, the Hussaini building collapse gave a wake-up call for many”.

Cop-BMC-neta trio gives cover to hawkers: Citizen activists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been undertaking hawker-eviction drives following the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, residents groups and civic activists – who have been pushing for action against illegal hawkers for years – fear the crackdown may just be a cosmetic exercise.They claim that before the recent massive outrage from citizens, their grievances about encroachment fell on deaf ears as hawkers regularly greased the palms of civic staff and policemen. Thus illegal hawking in neighbourhoods across the city was allowed to carry on with impunity.”Hawkers give at least Rs 100 every day to the BMC and police,” said Nikhil Desai, co-ordinator of Action for Good Governance and Networking in India, “All senior BMC officials are aware of this. The current drive is just a knee-jerk reaction.”If they are really serious, why don’t they immediately form the Town Vending Committee that is supposed to demarcate hawking zones and follow court orders?”Sources in BMC admit to corruption within the ranks, but pass the buck on to the police and local politicians. “There are times when we call up the police asking them to provide security when we decide to raid a particular area,” a senior BMC officer requesting anonymity told DNA, “By the time we reach the spot or the police arrive, the hawkers have already vanished. It is quite possible some junior civic staff may be alerting them. Not all civic staff or policemen are involved in these illegal activities. But it is very difficult to identify who might be leaking the information. It is not easy to take action against hawkers as there is also involvement of local politicians.”Desai refutes BMC’s claim that they have cleared hawkers from all railway stations, saying there are at least 100 hawkers outside Matunga station. “On Monday,” he says, “I wrote to Deputy Municipal Commissioner Narendra Barde and also met F-North ward officer Keshav Ubale, and written instructions were passed on to the ward’s Removal of Encroachments officer. However, the officer told me that he did not have the JCB to remove the stalls.”Desai says he had to request the ward’s Solid Waste Management department and arrange for the JCB himself, after which the hawkers outside Matunga station were removed. “But, as usual, the road was filled with hawkers that very evening,” Desai said.Another civic activist, Vasant Patil from Kandivli, said the identity and contact details of residents who lodge complaints against hawkers have been leaked to the hawkers, resulting in threats to the complainants.”The hawkers are aided by the connivance of BMC, police and local politicians,” Patil said, “I know many incidents where people visit ward offices and lodge written or oral complaints against hawkers. Within a short while, the complainant gets a call from a hawker leader, asking him/her to withdraw the compliant or face the consequences. After such experiences, many stop complaining. The question arises: How does the contact number of the complainant reach the hawkers?”Nita Bajpai, secretary of Gulmohar Residents Group, Juhu said, “We have already lost six to seven lives to unhygienic street food. We have complained to the police and at the BMC ward office several times, but the hawkers give them some money and the officers go away. Such officers should be punished. We want footpaths to be free for pedestrians and we will keep our fight going.”Advocate Nitin Nikam, secretary of Tilak Nagar Residents Welfare Association, says that even when action is taken, it is short-lived due to the unholy nexus. “The BMC does take action against hawkers, but only after repeated complaints. Even when action is taken, the hawkers put up their stalls at the same place the next day.”

Open-cut method for culverts to affect CR services

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the Railways and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation attempt to solve problems created due to water logging on railway tracks in the monsoon, especially between Sion and Kurla, the BMC has now found a solution to the problem. However, this may affect central railway commuters largely as they may have to brace for cancellations and blocks.Apart from Sion and Kurla, storm water drains or culverts at Currey Road, Chichpokli and Mulund will have to be widened by the open-cut method. “It is the only method we could finalise to widen railway culverts as the usual engineering methods cannot materialise on these stretches. Commuters may be affected due to this work,” a senior civic official told DNA.Around two years ago, the BMC sent 29 proposals to Railways for widening and maintenance of culverts, for which the corporation has already paid money to the Railways. “However, railway officials found technical difficulties for drains augmentation and the proposals were languishing,” said Chief Engineer VH Khandkar of BMC storm water drains department.”But after joint meetings and visits, it was finalised that for six culverts, of which three fall in Sion-Kurla, and others in Currey Road, Chinchpokli and Mulund, the open-cut method will be used. It needs open excavation and is time-consuming, but drains need to be augmented irrespective of methods,” Khandkar added.Meanwhile, Divisional Railway manager of Central Railway SK Jain said, “We have finalised 15 locations on priority basis where we plan to complete the work before next monsoon. For these six culverts, we are figuring out ways to minimise disruptions in railway services. Our engineers are already in talks with civic engineers for the same.”DELAY AHEADApart from Sion and Kurla, storm water drains or culverts at Currey Road, Chichpokli and Mulund will have to be widened by the open-cut method. Commuters are likely to be affected.

BMC seeks extended police help to continue eviction drive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After driving out hawkers from around railway stations, the Brihanmumbai Municipal corporation (BMC) has sought further help from the Mumbai police for taking ahead its hawker-eviction drives. The BMC will now evict hawkers outside schools, hospitals and congested areas civic ward wise to make these areas spacious for pedestrians.”While taking strong and continuous action against the hawkers, the support of the police force is needed to maintain the law and order situation”, Nidhi Chaudhari, Deputy Municipal Commissioner- Removal of Encroachments told DNA.The BMC is already holding meetings with the Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) seeking their support for the crackdown on hawkers in Mumbai. The ward offices are already taking police protection during their actions against the hawkers whereever needed, to prevent attacks by the hawkers. There have been several incidents in the past where the civic officers are attacked by protesting hawkers.Chaudhari said, “Mumbai police have already deployed around 4,000 policemen for giving protection to BMC several drives like demolition of slums along Tansa pipeline, demolition of religious structures and for hawkers’ evictions. But, the DCP’s I held meetings with have agreed to provide more police force if needed. In such massive drives, which are in public interest, the BMC, Mumbai police, railway police and other agencies involved in the drives should work as one agencies”.However, the main challenge the civic body faces is that the hawkers return to the locations where the drives are conducted. To avoid this, patrolling is necessary after eviction drives, which does not seem to take place. “BMC is action taking agency when it comes to removal of hawkers while the police are expected to patrol those locations to prevent re-occurrence of hawkers. But the police do not keep vigil and the hawkers put their stalls the next day. BMC can take action and evict hawkers, but patrolling the locations is not possible”, a Deputy Municipal Commissioner said.Commenting on police support for removal of hawkers by BMC, Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) said, “Adequate Police protection will be provided as and when required for eviction of hawkers in the city”.Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 6) Shahji Umap added, “We recently conducted our joint meeting of Mumbai police, Traffic Police and BMC. It is decided to provide more protection to BMC during their drive of evicting hawkers. We will co-ordinate for taking proper action”.

BMC to rope in more staff for action against hawkers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Removal of Encroachments (RE) department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked for more staff and logistics to strengthen their actions against hawkers across 24 civic wards in Mumbai. Officers from the department say that hawkers tend to return to areas they are cleared out from after the BMC’s pick-up vans and teams leave. However, they say the BMC’s recent crackdown on hawkers, operating around railway stations, has received a boost with the Mumbai Police also pitching in actively.”We have floated tenders for 78 pick-up vans while additional staff will help us keep vigil at multiple places at a time. Presently, we are concentrating on railway stations and will move ahead to schools, hospitals and other congested places in the wards. We will identify locations where due to over congestion the pedestrians face difficulties and take evict hawkers in the areas. However, keeping vigil at previous locations is required so that hawkers do not return to them. In case, we get extra staff for field work, the action will be stringent”.The RE department is likely to get 145 staff from the BMC’s erstwhile octroi department. Civic staff from the Octroi department have been accommodated in other departments of the BMC after Octroi was scrapped following introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. These officials are likely to work under the Town Vending Committee (TVC) that is yet to be set up. The TVC, which will have representatives of hawkers, street vendors, traffic police, and residents associations, is supposed to conduct surveys to identify street vendors, issue certificates to eligible vendors, recommend areas to be declared non-hawking zones, identify sites and spaces for hawking, and regulate timings, among other tasks.The formation of a TVC has been delayed as the BMC is awaiting a nod from the state government’s Urban Development department on the names it has recommended as members of the TVC. BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta has called a meeting on Tuesday on formation of the TVC.Past visits2003 1 lakh 3 thousand hawkers identified2007 15,169 were licensed hawkers2014 99,435 were identified hawkersAs of today- Around 12,000 are licensed hawkers

Garden at Mumbai Central to open in Feb

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai lacks open spaces especially spacious gardens. But soon, a 7,000 sq meters plot outside Mumbai Central railway station will be turned into a large garden with various activities for senior citizens and children.The proposed garden will not only be among the largest in south Mumbai but will also have an open plaza and open gym, basketball court, and facilities for other recreational activities.The Bhausaheb Hire Garden is being developed by BMC’s D ward on the plot which was strictly reserved for gardens as per the Development Plan 1991. However, after 26 years, the plot is being developed after getting rid of several encroachments.The work is in its last stage and the garden is likely to be opened for the public in mid-February of next year. The garden’s development cost is Rs 2 crore.A civic officer said, “We have developed the garden zone-wise like activities for senior citizens, a play area for children, open plaza where gatherings can be conducted, a basketball court, skating zone, open gym and sitting area. As the garden is in a rectangular shape, special pathways have been made for walking.”The Bhausaheb Hire Garden is located just outside Mumbai Central railway station on the western side.

BMC plans to lure commercial encroachers with compensation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The demolition of encroachments in Mumbai has always been a challenging job for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). One of the main obstructions faced by the civic body is that owners of the encroached structures which are eligible for rehabilitation do not easily agree for the alternate accommodation provided by the BMC.The BMC’s estate department has now worked on a revised policy of rehabilitation of commercial structures by offering them compensation in the form of ready reckoner rate of that area. This, the civic body says, will expedite the demolition process.BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “We do not have enough places for rehabilitation of the eligible commercial structures so we thought of compensating them which will definitely speed up the demolition drives. I have already sent the proposal to the standing committee”.The revised policy for the rehabilitation of commercial structures was prepared three months ago, however it has not yet been presented to the standing committee.”The BMC has enough space for residential rehabilitation but not for commercial. If money is offered instead of alternate accommodation, the shop owners will get encouraged to evict the place. We expect this policy to be sanctioned by the corporation soon to expedite the demolition of encroachments in Mumbai”, said a senior civic officer, requesting anonymity.”The ready reckoner rate is applicable to shops with a maximum area of 225 sq feet. If the area of the commercial structure is 250 or 300 sq feet big, rate will be paid for 225 sq feet area as that is the maximum area limit for alternate accommodation. The policy was made three to four months ago but is yet to be sanctioned by the standing committee. If the revised policy is implemented, the demolition drives will speed up,” said an official from the civic ward.Despite repeated attempts, BMC’s standing committee chairman Ramesh Korgankar (Shiv Sen) was unavailable for comment.MONETARY WINThe BMC’s estate department has worked on a revised policy that offers commercial structures compensation in the form of ready reckoner rate of the area. The revised policy was prepared three months ago, however it has not yet been presented to the standing committee.

Tender floated for 39-km cycling track along pipeline

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has floated a Rs. 137.28 crore tender for the proposed 39-km long cycling track and walkway along the Tansa water pipeline – which will extend from the outer limits of Mulund to Sahar Road in Andheri East.The Rs 137.28 crore project includes not only a cycling track and walkway but also has service road in asphalt, developing landscape, construction of garden with horticulture and earthwork, electrification work and modification of existing stormwater drains. However, trees affected by the alignment of the project will have to be removed by the contractor by obtaining permissions from the Tree Authority.The project was proposed in 2016 on the space holding encroachments on the 10-metre buffer zone along the Tansa pipeline. The Bombay High Court, in 2009, had ordered the BMC to remove all encroachments along the pipeline.However, removal of encroachments is a challenge for BMC as over 16,000 structures were to be demolished. Of these, around 30 per cent were done until June 2017 with latest being the demolition at the Garib Nagar slums in Bandra East.PASSING THROUGHThe 39-km Tansa water pipeline — in two parts from Mulund to Dharavi and Ghatkopar to Sion — passes through ten administration wards including Sion, Mahim, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Chembur, Bandra East and Andheri East.

BMC-Railways hold joint meet, plan for subways

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on Tuesday called for a review meeting of the Bridges department and Removal of Encroachments department of BMC, which was also attended by Railway officials. The meeting took place on a day when Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Elphinstone Road station and announced that the Indian Army will build foot-overbridges (FOB).Member of Parliament of BJP Kirit Somaiya, who was also present at the meeting, proposed to build pedestrian subways at three railway stations — Ghatkopar, Bhandup and Mulund — instead of building additional FOBs.”BMC chief and railway officials have sanctioned the proposals and Ghatkopar station’s survey plan will be made soon. The subway at the three stations connect all the platforms. The cost will be borne 50-50 by railways and BMC, but work will be carried out by Railways”.”The proposed idea is to build subways at railway stations instead of FOBs like in the case of stations in Navi Mumbai. The additional FOBs and escalators are expensive, and wherever it is feasible, subways can be built which will play a role in diverting the crowd,” a senior BMC officer said.On removal of encroachments, especially hawkers at exits of railway stations, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Nidhi Chaudhari said, “We have already allotted tenders for deploying additional pick-up vans outside railway stations in city. Plus, I have a review meeting with concerned staff on Wednesday to take decisions on provision of logistics for taking strict action against hawkers. Whatever heavy logistics the staff needs for removing hawkers and other unauthorised structures at exits of railway stations, will be achieved”.

MTDC roped in to promote Kala Ghoda’s open art gallery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The open art gallery on Kaikashu Dubhash Marg at Kala Ghoda which was conceptualised and inaugurated by Yuva Sena Chief Aditya Thackeray has been receiving a lukewarm response from artists. The gallery has hardly seen any exhibitions by artists.”After a few initial successful events, the open art gallery has not elicited much response from artists,” said A-ward’s assistant municipal commissioner, Kiran Dighavkar.Now, in order to create a buzz and invite more artists, the BMC has approached the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) to introduce fresh promotional ideas.A MTDC officer on the condition of anonymity said, “The idea of the project is to promote our state’s art and culture through exhibitions and performances. The artists will get an additional open platform to showcase their art at new places. We are positive towards making the Kala Ghoda open art gallery a happening place. We will soon have meetings with our stake holders like Bombay Port Trust, hoteliers and traffic police as the road needs to be closed for the day, and other authorities before going ahead with the project.”ART ON THE STREETThe 250-metre-long stretch on Kaikashru Dubash Marg at Kala Ghoda is meant to be a venue for exhibitions by artists on Sundays.
The aim of the initiative was to enable artists to take 15×15-foot boxes on a nominal rent of Rs 400 to showcase their art at a prime location.

BMC resumes demolition drive at Garib Nagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) resumed its demolition drive in the slums of Garib Nagar at Behrampada (Bandra East) on Monday, two days after a major fire broke out in the region while the civic body was carrying out the operation. The work began under heavy police security in the weekday afternoon.In what is being seen as an indication of the BMC’s hardening stance on demolishing illegal structures — including those of hawkers — across Mumbai, in a first, the civic body chief, Ajoy Mehta, has given the charge of the Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Removal of Encroachments) to an IAS officer. The post is traditionally held by state-cadre officers. Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Nidhi Chaudhari, posted with the civic legal department, has been given additional charge of the demolition of illegal structures across the city.Speaking to DNA, Chaudhari said, “The drive shall continue across Mumbai with coordination of all Assistant Municipal Commissioners, Deputy and Assistant Police Commissioners of Mumbai.”Meanwhile, the H-East ward on Monday resumed its demolition drive in the Garib Nagar slums which was suspended after the major fire. The ward officer resumed the demolition drive late on Monday afternoon, and in the presence of heavy police security, and demolished 20 shanties.However, the ward office has an extended plan of action, which includes demolishing 2096 illegal structures in the region starting from Garib Nagar slum to the ones in front of Bandra Terminus ending at Mumbai airport compound, a senior civic officer told DNA. “We shall continue with our demolition drive with the help of police security. It’s a week-long demolition. We surveyed 326 structures in the shanties in Garib Nagar near the Tansa pipeline. Of them, 240 structures need to be demolished. Unfortunately, just 35 are eligible for alternate accommodation,” the officer said.

NMMC follows BMC on waste rule, composting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the footsteps of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which has made it mandatory for bulk generators to segregate waste at source and composting wet waste in society premises itself, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has also served notices to about 1,000 residential complexes and commercial establishments under Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.The deadline given to the societies and commercial establishments to compulsorily segregate waste into dry and wet and apply composting methods is November 15. However, NMMC Commissioner N Ramaswamy has already started taking stern steps and last week ordered civic staff to stop lifting unsegregated waste from 50 societies. Speaking to DNA Ramaswamy said, “Navi Mumbai has 60 per cent of waste segregated at source and we intend to achieve 100 per cent segregation at source by end of March 2018. We have also deployed sweepers near pubic dustbin who force the residents to segregate the waste before throwing into public dustbins”.“In Navi Mumbai many societies have come forward to start composting,” Ramaswamy added.

Behrampada residents always interrupt fire dousing ops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking control of the major fire that broke out in the Behrampada area in Bandra east on Thursday was not an easy task for the Mumbai Fire Brigade. Fire officials claim the slum dwellers in the area are infamous for interrupting the firefighting.In 2015 too, the firemen struggled with the locals. Following the damage, a case was registered in Nirmal Nagar police station. However, on Thursday too, the firemen and police experienced the same disruption, in addition to dealing with crowds during the demolition drive.”The slum cluster has a history of fires and the locals try to dominate the firefighting operations. We not only take an extra force of fire brigades but also have to be ready for self-defense,” said PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer.According to sources from the police, an extra police force had been deployed on Thursday. While the police claim to have carried out the operations smoothly, the firefighters have a different story to tell.”They disconnect the coupling attached to fire engines. In the past, they have taken charge of fire brigade vehicles. Whenever we get a fire call from Behrampada, we have to ask for an extra police force to handle the crowd,” another officer said.”Whenever we get a fire call from the area, our firemen get psychologically stressed as facing the irate crowd is a challenging task. The slum dwellers snatch the water nozzle from while we attempt to control the fire strategically,” the officer added.

Masjid Stn to get new FOB to ease crowds

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking into consideration the high footfall and to ease crowds, Masjid railway station may get an additional foot over bridge (FOB).A joint inspection was carried out by railway officials and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials earlier this month at all railway stations after the Elphinstone Road station mishap which killed 23 people.“Masjid railway station already has a FOB connecting to the station but the building of an additional one parallel to FOB which provides an exit to Abhay Chand Gandhi Marg is under consideration. It will help divert the crowd going to the markets,” Uday Shiroorkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of B ward, said.“Although during a joint inspection, it was found that constructing an additional FOB is not feasible, engineers recommended building a ramp (skywalk) which can connect to the new FOB. We have agreed to give all required clearances as it will ease crowd at Masjid station,” Shiroorkar added.The Masjid railway station, which serves as a Central and Harbour station, sees high footfall across the Mumbai Metropolitan region as well as markets located in Masjid Bunder area.However, Shiroorkar said evicting hawkers from outside Masjid station becomes difficult especially in the evening.“While hawkers (fruit sellers) have already been allotted shops in a market near the station, they still put their stalls on the road outside station premises for better sales. We have stepped up vigil in the evening and have issued a warning.”ADDITIONAL FOBAt present Masjid railway station has three exits on the FOB — Abhay Chand Gandhi Marg, Bhandhari Marg and Yusuf Meher Ali Road. The proposed FOB is parallel to Abhay Chand Gandhi Marg.

Two treatment plants proposed near Mithi river to stop sewage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even after spending around Rs 700 crore on widening and deepening the Mithi river in the last 12 years, keeping the river clean has been one of the biggest challenges for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The sewage emission from the nearby slums in Kurla has increased the pollution level in the river. To address this concern, the BMC has proposed two sewage treatment plants (STPs) to be installed in the slums. The proposed projects will be included in the Draft Development Plan (DP) of Mumbai 2034.The STPs have been proposed to be installed on the land next to Mithi River in Kurla (L ward) which the BMC took over from the MMRDA. Recently, the MMRDA handed over three land parcels next to Mithi river to the BMC, of which the BMC has prepared proposed land usage to be included in the DP for which suggestions and objections are being called. The total area of the land handed over is 137 hectares, which includes L ward, H-West (Bandra west) and K-west (Oshiwara area) of which 35 hectares are in the L ward.In many reports, the BMC has mentioned that keeping the river clean is difficult as the slums emit sewage directly. If the STPs are set up in the slums, the sewage will not be directly emitted into the river, which is at present polluting it, and also blocking the flow of rainwater. “The main purpose is to allow the sewage to get mixed with the stormwater drain. The sewage line and stormwater drain should be separated to allow the un-interrupted flow of water. But this does not happen in the slums in Kurla. When STP is set up, the sewage will be treated and then emitted in the mainstream flow,” said a senior civic officer.THE PLAN​Recently, the MMRDA handed over three land parcels next to Mithi river to the BMC The STPs are proposed to be installed in the slums in Parikhadi near Dharavi, and near BKC road.

Civic body orders removal of hawkers outside rly stations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To tighten the ongoing drive to evict hawkers outside railway stations, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has doubled the fine against the illegal hawkers. For the last four days, the roads immediately outside many railway stations in Mumbai have become spacious as BMC has removed all illegal hawkers. However, considering that the hawkers pay fines and put up their stalls the next day, BMC has not only increased their mobile vans but doubled the fines to discourage the hawkers.Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta gave his nod for the proposal a couple days ago but the decision was communicated to railway officials in a joint meeting of BMC and railway officials on Monday on the course of action on removal of all hawkers up to a 150-metre area outside railway stations under BMC jurisdiction.An officer from BMC licence department said, “The fine has been doubled to discourage hawkers to put up their stalls again. For instance, if previously the removal charges was Rs 240, now it’s Rs 480; and if penalty was Rs 1000, it will now be R s2000. The fine increases according to the type of stalls like eatables, garments and others.”In the joint meeting, the BMC chief also announced that all the Assistant Municipal Commissioners (known as ward officers) of all 24 civic wards will be nodal officers in removal of hawkers outside railway stations. The railway stations from Churchgate to Dahisar on Western Railway, CST to Mulund on Central Railway and CST to Mankhurd on Harbour line fall under BMC jurisdiction.Ajoy Mehta confirmed the decisions announced on Monday and said, “It will be applied for roads outside railway stations only in BMC areas.”

Bandra Fort soon to be rid of encroachers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bandra Fort beautification project is gathering steam as the H-West ward `of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) served notices to 171 hutments who have encroached on the plot adjoining the fort. The notices were served last week under Section 314 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and the ward officials have asked the encroachers to provide eligibility documents by October 9.”If eligibility is proved, an alternate accommodation plan will be given to the encroachers while the rest will be demolished,” said Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Sharad Ughade. The ward recently demolished 51 illegal structures in the area.Two adjoining plots owned by the BMC with a combined area of 25,000 sq mt will be utilised in the project. Of the two plots, one has been developed as a garden and adopted by the Residents’ Trust while the other plot is partly encroached. The BMC can start the project once the plot is free of all encroachments.Meanwhile, the municipal architect Surendra Borale has asked consultant Hafeez Contractor to submit the project’s final design plan in 15 days. Borale said, “I have received the standing committee resolution to appoint the consultant and in a day or two we will ask him to submit a final design plan in 15 days after which the design plan will be sent to Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) for their final approval”.DNA had reported on July 3 that MCZMA has given its in-principle approval to the project and asked BMC to use only natural materials for the development.Revamp planThe beautification plan includes a promenade designed in the form of waves and a cycling track connecting the Bandra Fort to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.

Waste segregation: Civic body continues collection, for now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had set a deadline of October 2 for compulsory waste segregation and composting of wet waste at source by housing societies based on an area of 20,000 sq metres or more or societies which generate garbage more than 100 kgs. However, with apprehensions raised by housing societies on whether they would be able to meet the deadline due to lack of knowhow and space for composting, the civic administration last month said it would give societies leeway of three months to start the waste management at source, provided they submit a detailed plan to the corporation.In case of housing societies who have not submitted such a plan, the BMC did not stop collecting garbage on Monday, and a revised deadline is awaited for such societies and bulk generators.Since July 1, after Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta announced the decision on compulsory waste segregation and composting for bulk generators, and a total of 5,304 notices were sent to various societies and commercial establishments across 24 civic wards. Of these, till now 373 societies and commercial establishments started waste segregation and composting.On Monday, 97 societies initiated the project. Although maximum societies are ready for waste segregation, composting was difficult to implement due to lack of space and expertise. Considering the unpreparedness towards composting, BMC has asked the societies to approach the municipal ward officers and give written application for extension of deadline stating what challenges they face. The circular for the same was given to all 24 wards recently.DNA had reported on September 11 that only 4% of bulk generators of garbage have approached civic wards to begin composting and that commissioner has directed to set up help desks in all civic wards to solve residents queries on waste segregation and various methods of composting.”BMC spokesperson Ram Dotonde said, “BMC will issue notices to societies which have not applied for extension. BMC has not completely stopped collecting wet waste as of now. But after the revised deadline, the societies have to strictly follow the guidelines and segregate waste and follow composting too. The help desks are also set up in all wards.”A senior officer from the solid waste management department said, “As many societies have already started composting, we will now have to take a review as how much quantity of garbage has been reduced. Earlier, Mumbai generated 7,500 tons of garbage every day, but after compulsory waste segregation we expect at least 1,000 tons less. However, in a week we will ask all wards to send reports of how much garbage was collected,” he added.

Polluted water irks residents of Churchgate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After noise pollution, the residents of Churchgate and Cuffe Parade are irked with the supply of contaminated water to their houses. Residents of Moti Mahal building at J Tata Road in Churchgate were shocked to know that the water which is supplied to their building is unfit for human consumption. They claim that since work on the underground Metro-3 project has begun, they are getting contaminated water. DNA had reported on September 19 that BMC’s A ward, which comprises Churchgate and Cuffe Parade, has consistently been receiving poor quality water.Ashwin Nagpal, a resident of Moti Mahal, last week collected a sample of water supplied to his home, boiled it and sent to a private lab in Churchgate for testing. The lab released its report on Monday stating that the water sample contains bacteria not fit for human consumption. Nagpal said, “MMRC damaged the water pipe line in front of our building, They repaired it in a month and BMC restored our supply. But still many of the residents started falling ill.”An MMRC spokesperson said, “We are examining the cause. Temporarily, alternative supply has been ensured and attempts are on to get the issue resolved with the help of the BMC.” When Nagpal contacted the civic administration, the civic officials told him to re-test the water samples through procedure adopted by the BMC.

Most of city wilts under heavy noise pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>High-pitch protests by groups of Mumbai’s citizens and activists have clearly landed in deaf ears. A shocking data, recorded by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for 2016-17, reveals that most areas in the city wilt under heavy noise ranging from 70 – 80 decibels, clearly breaching the norms set by the Ministry Of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC).According to the report, more than 50% area of the city witness noise levels ranging between 80 and 90 dB. BMC does the noise level mapping at1,200 locations across 24 civic wards, which include categories like courts, hospitals, schools, traffic junctions, industrial areas, religious places, railway stations, malls and tourists spots.BMC, which recently completed its Environment Status Report of 2016-17, states only 0.15% and 0.10% locations come in the normal range of noise during working and non-working days.Also, only 2.19 percent and 1.73 percent of locations witness normal noise levels during working and non-working nights.As per norms during the daytime, the noise levels in a residential area should not exceed 55 dB and 65 dB in a commercial area. During the night, 45 dB is the maximum noise level in a residential area, 55 dB is the noise level at a commercial area.Sumaira Abdulali, Conveyer of Awaaz Foundation, said, “According to World Health Organisation if a person is exposed to noise level beyond 80 dB for over eight hours, they can suffer hearing loss, heart and other disorders. The noise levels recorded by BMC clearly states at how high-risk people are living in Mumbai.”The data will be presented in the next general body meeting of the BMC.

Coastal Road Project’s Phase 1 work to face delays

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Work on the state government’s Coastal Road Project’s Phase 1 — from Princess Street to Worli Sea Face — is set to miss the October 31 deadline, for giving the work order, announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The civic body has extended the time for bids submission to October 31, and financial bids will be opened on December 4.The BMC, which is heading the project, had called for proposal requests from 13 qualified firms. However, the bidders have submitted 774 queries and the civic officials need time to answer them. The work is now expected to start by February.BMC officials said that out of the 774 queries, 50 per cent are contractual, 20 per cent related to commercial items, 25 per cent are technical and 5 per cent are related to pricing, goods and services tax and duties.Sanjay Mukherjee, Additional Municipal Commissioner said, “It’s the first project of its kind undertaken by the corporation. Despite being such a huge project, we have very few queries related to pricing and GST. Although the work may start a little late, the response from bidders is very positive.”

Plans to fight deluge caught in land rows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the 2005 deluge, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) realised that its stormwater drains could not handle rainfall over 25 mm per hour. The civic body spent Rs 659 crore on cleaning, widening and deepening the Mithi river. The BMC also spent Rs 2,813 crore on the Brihanmumbai Stormwater Disposal System (BRIMSTOWAD) to augment the almost century-old storm-water drainage system, remove encroachments along the rivers and set up six pumping stations. But Mumbai still halted during the August 29 downpour.The BMC claims that 95 per cent of the work on the river project is complete. However, at many locations, due to the civic body’s failure to remove encroachments along the river, the project has been delayed. BRIMSTOWAD has also been delayed due to slum encroachments along the Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara rivers. Garbage and sewage from these slums also obstruct rainwater flow to the sea. Two pumping stations are still not operational.Experts say that Mumbai’s topography complicates matters further. According to them, when there is high tide accompanied by heavy rains, waterlogging in Mumbai is unavoidable.Former Municipal Commissioner DM Sukthankar says, “But water does not recede because drains are blocked.” Sukthankar also points to another problem of more and more open spaces being increasingly concretised.A senior civic official says, “The island city is low-lying and development in suburbs is on higher levels… encroachments are taking place haphazardly. Water logging cannot be avoided in such a situation.”

A-ward tops list of poor quality water

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) A-ward, which comprises areas like Colaba, Churchgate and Cuffe Parade, has consistently been receiving poor quality water. While in May, the highest number of contaminated water samples collected by the BMC for tests belonged to the A-ward, in June and August, the ward had the second highest number, and in July the third.Civic officials blame the ongoing underground Metro work for the water contamination in this ward, alleging that the work damaged water lines. Ashok Tawadia, hydraulic engineer, BMC, said, “There were two incidents of water line bursts due to Metro work which not only caused water contamination but also cuts in local water supply.” Meanwhile a spokesperson from MMRC said, “In both such incidents brought to our notice, our contractors promptly took remedial measures.”The monthly water quality reports for May to August, accessed by DNA, show that A-ward has consistently been among the bottom three wards in terms of pure water supply during this period. As many as 10.14 per cent of the water samples collected from the ward were declared “unfit” in June. The figure stood at 8.59 per cent in May, and 5.47 per cent of the samples were detected with E-coli bacteria. In July and August, A-ward recorded 7.09 per cent and 4.96 per cent unfit water samples respectively.Assistant Commissioner of A-ward, Kiran Dighavkar, said, “I accept that the area tops in water contamination but there was a lapse by the officer in the manner in which the samples were collected. Strict action has been taken against him.”Robin Jaisinghani, a Cuffe Parade resident said, “In the last couple of months, a few buildings have been receiving contaminated water while in Cuffe Parade just a few days ago we were receiving impure water. In addition to noise pollution, we are now also facing water contamination due to Metro work.”

Work on 1,670 roads to begin

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Mumbaikars forced to commute on bumpy roads ridden with potholes, the BMC has drawn up a list of around 1,670 roads across the city and it intends to begin repair work from October 1 onwards.The 1,670 road repair works include 515 priority-III road works, 420 new project roads, and 744 pending road works which were halted during the monsoon. “We have sent letters to Traffic Police for obtaining an NOC to begin work,” a senior officer from Roads and Traffic department said. The deadline for completion of work is May 2018.

Societies yet to get serious about waste

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the BMC is firm on its stand that October 2 onwards it will not collect wet garbage from residential societies, based on an area more than 20,000 sq m, and from commercial or residential premises that generate more than 100 kilograms of garbage daily, only four per cent of the establishments issued notices by the BMC in this regard have approached the corporation regarding compulsory waste segregation and composting.So far, the BMC has served notices to more than 5,304 housing societies and commercial establishments for compulsory waste segregation and composting of wet waste on their premises. However, only around 234 of these have approached the BMC.In July, civic chief Ajoy Mehta announced that from October 2, around 6,500 societies and commercial establishments across the BMC’s 24 wards will have to compulsorily segregate waste into dry and wet waste, hand over the dry waste to the municipal waste collection vehicle, while compost the wet waste on their premises.”We have served notices to societies which generate more than 100 kg of garbage but to bigger societies which generate 125 kg to 150 kg, notices are yet to be served. Our door-to-door survey is going on and around 1,300 more societies will get notices this month,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Vijay Balamwar.Meanwhile, Mehta has directed all 24 civic ward officers to arrange exhibitions on waste segregation and methods of composting. All the wards have also been directed to visit the societies and guide residents on waste segregation and set up help desks in the ward for solving queries.AWARENESS DRIVEBMC’s Solid Waste Management organised an exhibition of three days in Worli to guide societies on composting methods.
Wards like K-East and West, R-North and H-West arranged exhibitions to encourage residents towards waste segregation

Include tree-cutting in Right to Service Act

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A BJP Corporator from Juhu, Aneesh Makwaney, has moved a notice of motion to include ‘tree cutting and trimming’ under the Right to Service Act. If the service is included, it will make it mandatory for the civic ward to either grant permission for tree cutting/trimming in a stipulated time, or give in writing that the permission is denied.Considering the fatal incident in Chembur in August, where a 54-year-old Kanchan Nath died after a coconut tree fell on her, Makwaney said, “In Nath’s case, the society had sought permission to cut the coconut tree two months ago, but it was denied by the civic ward’s tree officer. To avoid such fatal incidents and damage of property due to tree falling, if tree cutting/trimming is included under Right to Service Act, it will become mandatory for the ward’s tree officer to either grant permission to cut the tree or deny it by giving an explanation in writing within 14 days”.However, civic activist and President of Diamond Garden Residents Forum in Chembur, Rajkumar Sharma said, “The concept of including the permissions for tree cutting under Right to Service Act is appreciated. But, I feel that in the case of dangerous trees, if cutting permissions are not given in 14 days, it should be considered a ‘Yes’. This will only reduce the number of unfortunate incidences of big trees falling causing damage not only to property but also human life.””But there are high chances of misuse of the service. People who wish to cut a particular tree for their selfish purposes, can influence the tree officer to grant permission for it in spite of the tree being healthy. The concept of including tree cutting under the service act is a good concept, but there should be a stringent watch that no corruption takes place,” added Sharma.The notice of motion will be moved in BMC’s next general body meeting scheduled for September 15.

150 posts in BMC colleges to be filled through ads

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government on Thursday facilitated the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to fill up the 150 vacant posts of professors and associate professors in its four medical colleges through advertisement and direct interviews. After this significant move by the state government, the BMC administration no longer needs to depend on the time-consuming selection procedure through Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC).At present, in civic-run medical colleges 90 per cent professors are recruited on a temporary basis who will be now regularised, said Director of Medical education, Dr Avinash Supe. Until now, the civic body had to fill 50 per cent posts through the MPSC and 50 per cent through promotion. As the MPSC selection procedure was time-consuming and promotion faced hurdles like seniority or caste reservation, many posts were left vacant across the four BMC-run medical colleges.There are 200 posts for professor of which 50 are lying idle and 450 posts for associate professor of which 100 are vacant. According to Dr Supe, “We widely welcome the cabinet decision. We (BMC) also asked the state to facilitate the process to recruit professors through advertisements for our medical colleges.”

Metro 3 work noise level hits 100 dB, Cuffe Parade citizens irked

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 3,500 residents of Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai are suffering as they are forced to hear almost 100 decibels (dB) of noise every day because of the Metro 3 construction work in the area. A resident of Dalamal Park, Robin Jaisinghani irked by the extreme noise, on Wednesday at 2.30 pm, recorded the noise created by the machinery involved in the metro construction work, just opposite his building. The noise levels reached 100 dB, which is almost double as per noise pollution norms.According to noise pollution norms, in any residential premises, the noise level should not exceed 55 dB during the day. In Cuffe Parade, after Bombay High Court’s recent order, the metro construction work has been stopped from 10 pm to 6 am. “The labourers begin work at sharp 6 am and continue till 10 pm creating noise pollution, which has now started affecting our sleep and health,” Jaishghani said.On Tuesday noon, Jaishinghani measured the noise levels from his residence and it recorded up to 88 dB and on Wednesday afternoon the construction noise recorded up to 100 dB. Residential buildings like Dalamal Park, Jupiter Apartments, Venus Apartments are among others in the neighbourhood which get directly affected due to the construction noise.The work of Metro 3 — Colaba-Seepz-Bandra — a fully underground metro line work is being carried in full swing across south Mumbai and western suburbs.However, MMRCL officials refused to comment on the issue saying, that the matter is sub-judiced. The next hearing for the petition against noise pollution due to metro work is scheduled on September 13.

Fire in Juhu’s under construction building, five labourers dead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An under construction, 13 storeyed Prarthna building, opposite Kaifi Azmi Park, next to Green Acres, Juhu reported a fire call at 10.10 pm, which resulted in the deaths of five labourers.According to BMC’s disaster management, fire was due to a cylinder blast. An official confirmed that the fire was confined to ground floor in an area of 50 ft x 100 ft . to scrap material and wooden articles thereby causing fatal burn injuries to five. The injured were moved to Cooper hospital.An Accidental Death Report is being registered at Juhu police station and police are carrying out preliminary inquiry. Most of the deceased were labourers, a police officer from Juhu police station informed.

Bandra devotee dresses up her green Ganesha in edible colours

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bandra’s Rewa Nargolkar has decided to take the green Ganpati initiative three steps further by sculpting a clay idol all by herself, adorning it with edible colours, and organising an immersion at home, rather than cluttering the seas.She made the five-foot statue after attending a daylong workshop. “I have been living in Mumbai for 12 years now and I try to make the idol as eco-friendly as possible. This year has been a peak. After making the five-foot idol, which was all in grey, I even painted it with an edible green colour, the kind my daughter uses in cakes,” Nargolkar said.The 45-year-old’s family decided to colour the mouse brown with instant coffee diluted with water.Nargolkar’s drive to keep things ecologically friendly goes beyond the idol. Last year, after she immersed her clay idol at home, she used the sediment as well as the water to plant flowers. “I immersed the idol in a bucket of water. The clay settled down at the bottom. I collected it and planted hibiscus in it, it’s a flower loved by Lord Ganesha. I nurtured the plant all year long. When I saw that plants weren’t blooming as they should, I took them to a horticulturist to restore their health. The plants are now very healthy”.This year, Nargolkar plans to reuse the clay post-immersion. “Once the clay is settled in the bucket, I will collect it in a cotton bag, dry it and try to use it next year for moulding the idol. I hope my experiment is successful.”She added that she’d use the water for watering plants, “as I do every year”.The family has received many visitors who are eager to glimpse her eco-friendly Ganpati painted in eatable colours.

Crushed by their own home, 24 die

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two days after life in Mumbai was paralysed by torrential rains, the dilapidated ground-plus-five storey Hussaini building at Pakmodia Street in Bohri Mohalla came crashing down, leaving 24 persons dead and injuring at least 16 others. Six women and three children were among those who lost their lives. A Tawakkal sweets preparation unit operated on the ground floor of the building, and many of the victims were labourers who worked and stayed there.The toll is expected to rise as more people are believed to be trapped under the debris, and one of the persons rescued is in a critical condition. Six firemen also sustained injuries during rescue operations. The tragedy could have been worse if the mishap occurred an hour later, as at least 40 children attend a playgroup on the first floor of the building which was yet to open.The 117-year-old building was in a dilapidated condition and some tenants had refused to move out despite being served two eviction notices in 2011. The building had 12 residential flats, and a commercial premises on the ground floor. It was among buildings that were to be redeveloped as part of the ambitious Bhendi Bazaar cluster redevelopment project undertaken by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT).As some parts of the building had collapsed in 2011, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had served an eviction notice to the tenants in March 2011, and again in May that year, to vacate, repair or demolish the building. In August 2011, after a high powered committee under the chairmanship of the Municipal Commissioner gave its nod for redevelopment of Bhendi Bazaar, 256 buildings in the area, including Hussaini building, came under the project. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the collapse site on Thursday and announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the families of the dead.He added that all medical expenses of the injured would be borne by the state. He also said that an inquiry will be carried out by the Additional Secretary of Housing, and strict action would be taken against those found negligent.MHADA has set up an inquiry committee under the Chief Engineer, who has been asked to submit a report within 15-days to the Vice President of MHADA, detailing the technical and administrative lapses.Sumant Bhange, chief officer of MHADA’s Mumbai Repair and Reconstruction Board said, “We had issued the first notice to the building in March 2011, after a portion of it collapsed. We had asked them to either repair, or demolish and vacate the building at the soonest. However, nothing was moving so we issued another notice in May 2011.”Bhange added that a special inquiry has been set up under the chief engineer of MHADA, who will look into all details including technical and that on administrative level behind the collapse. “It was the SBUT’s responsibility to get the tenants evicted,” he saidThe building came crashing down at around 8.30 am on Thursday, when most of the residents were at home. Locals began rescue efforts before the fire department officials could reach the site. The fire brigade took time to begin rescue operations as the police had to first clear crowds that had gathered on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road.“By the time official operations started, we had rescued four victims, two of whom were children”, said Taham Ansari, who stays nearby.Housing Minister Prakash Mehta said, “The time has come to start looking to adopt forceful eviction of tenants living in the dilapidated buildings across the city. We can’t simply be mute spectators while people are dying under the rubble of buildings.”“To compulsorily evacuate people,” Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, “there should be enough transit camps. The state government should start transit camps in all 24 wards to encourage people to vacate their old houses and bring in a housing policy for redevelopment.”WHAT SBUT SAYSA statement issued by SBUT says they tried their best to evict all 13 tenants, including a non-residential tenant, and had managed to get seven tenants evicted.
The statement read, “This ground+6 building housed a total of 13 tenants, which included 12 residential and one commercial. Out of these, the trust had already shifted seven families in 2013-14. MHADA notices declaring the building dilapidated were issued along with offer of transit accommodation to the remaining tenants and occupants. At present, the area has been cordoned off to carry out the evacuation process smoothly.” Forcible evictions?
There are clauses under the MHADA Act especially section 95A that allows MHADA to forcibly evict tenants of dilapidated buildings, including imprisoning them. However, responding to questions as to why it didn’t evict tenants of this building forcibly, a senior official said, “The developer should have informed us, we would have taken necessary steps.”

Mumbai: Three-storey Hussaini building collapses in Bhendi Bazar; search and rescue operation underway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two days after heavy rains in Mumbai, a ground plus three-story Hussaini building collapsed in South Mumbai on Thursday, and several people are feared to be trapped.The incident took place at around 8:30 am in Bhendi Bazar area.Fire brigade officials and police personnel have rushed to the site. Search and rescue operations are underway with the help of local residents.The building was reportedly 100-years-old and around 10 families were residing in it. However, it is not yet clear if the building was listed as dangerous.So far, four people have been rescued and seven injured have been taken to the hospital.Mumbai has received unprecedented rains in the last few days and it is suspected to have caused sufficient damage to the old and dilapidated buildings.Last month, at least 17 people were killed after the four-storey Siddhi-Sai Cooperative Housing Society collapsed after the pillars of the building got weakened due to renovation of a nursing home located on its ground floor.

No option for passengers at LTT but to wait

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The derailment of Duronto Express near Asangaon and heavy rains on Tuesday disrupted Central Railway (CR) services in a big way. Many long-distance trains were rescheduled or cancelled.At Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), 12 trains were rescheduled and three were cancelled. Till 12 noon on Wednesday, six trains were re-scheduled and three stood cancelled. “This resulted in one lakh people getting stranded on LTT since Tuesday morning,” a CR official said. LTT runs 29 trains every day. However, since Tuesday, the railway station has become like a bus stand. “As and when a train arrives, we immediately leave it for another destination,” the official added.Not only passengers were waiting for trains, there were also long queues for cancellation of tickets. On Wednesday at LTT, the CR returned Rs 5 lakh to the passengers as refund on ticket cancellation.Passengers were seen waiting on the platforms, either sitting or sleeping. The CR made no additional arrangement for the stranded passengers.Ravi Mesrani who had come down to Mumbai for a holiday, said, “I came from Bilaspur for with my friends three days. But due to heavy rains, we could not visit any locations except two or three Ganpati mandals nearby. I got a message from CR that our LTT-Bhuwaneshwar train of 12.15 am on Tuesday was rescheduled at 11.15 am Wednesday. We came to the platform at 10 am but it’s 12.30 pm now and there is no announcement for our train. We have no option but to wait.”At LTT, around 180 CR staff was active since Tuesday morning. A CR official said, “There was water logging up to the platform. There were point failures and they were manually operated. Our workers were working in 3-feet deep water. The three trains which we ran on Tuesday were without signal.

New sewage plant for Colaba in the pipeline

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to increase the capacity of sewage treatment plants (STP) in Colaba, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is setting up a new 37 MLD (million litres per day) STP, work on which began last year. Colaba already has a STP but with only 24 MLD capacity.The new one will not only add to the capacity of sewage treatment per day, keeping in mind the future population and water supply projection in the area, but it will be the first waste water treatment facility (WWTF) by the civic body which will enable reuse of treated sewage.The sewage which will arrive at the treatment plant will be treated up to tertiary standards for reuse of treated sewage. The treatment includes influent pumping which will have primary treatment units, secondary treatment unit will have biological reactor, disinfection and the tertiary treatment will have disc filter. The effluent pumping station will have sludge dewatering unit. Of the 37 MLD capacity plant, 10 ML water can be treated and will be reused for non-potable purposes like gardening, industrial purpose and car washing.”The Colaba WWTP is a milestone project of municipal sewage disposal project (MSDP). The objective is to recycle and reuse the water which will be treated and improve the water supply situation. We started the work last year and the plant will be operational by 2020,” said Satish Narkar, Chief Engineer for MSDP.

Ganesh Chaturthi 2017: BMC’s noise pollution complain system fails ahead of festival

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Bombay High Court came down heavily on the state to control noise pollution during festivals in its recent judgement, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) released two toll-free numbers which are 1292 and 1293 for citizens to lodge complaints against loud music. However, it seems that BMC has failed to get a gateway from MTNL due to which if you call from your non-MTNL (Dolphin) mobile numbers on the toll free numbers to lodge complaints on noise pollution, your phone may get connected to your service provider which will provide various recharge options, loan options or say in-correct number! When DNA tried calling to the numbers 1292 and 1293 on Thursday (yesterday) after 10 pm to complain about loud music, the calls were getting connected to Airtel service provider giving local and STD calls recharge options while another service provider redirected the call to loan services helpline. However, only when the toll-free numbers were dialled from an MTNL mobile number, the call was connected to BMC’s disaster management cell who then registered the complaint on loud music in Tilak Nagar colony, Chembur. The disaster management told that the complaint will be forwarded to Mumbai Police who will take necessary action and also provided a four digit complaint registration number. However, neither the BMC nor the Mumbai Police took actions to stop the loud speaker music and band bajas played up to 1 in midnight. The noise pollution till midnight irked the residents. Surprisingly, Tilak Police station is located in the colony itself! When DNA contacted BMC’s spokesperson Vijay Khabale Patil, he said, “I will tell the concerned officers to look in the connectivity issue. We were told that these two numbers will be used as toll-free numbers for citizens to launch noise pollution complaints against pandas. But if there is a connectivity issue, we will look into it”.

13 firms to bid for Coastal Road project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BMC on Wednesday floated tenders for Phase 1 of the Coastal Road. There were 17 firms that had shown interest in the construction of Phase 1 (southern part) of the Coastal Road, which stretches across 9.98 km, from Princess street to Worli Sea Face, of which the BMC recently declared the names of 13 firms that have qualified to submit tenders for the same.The estimated cost of Phase 1 is Rs 5,303 crore and is divided into three packages — I, II and IV. Package III will be constructed by MSRDC. The package I is a 3.7-km stretch from Priyadarshani Park to Baroda Palace with an estimated cost of Rs 2,719.75 crore. Four firms which qualified for this stretch are L&T and three in Joint Venture (JV) — Reliance Infra, NMDC and Rizzani, CGGC and Soma Engineering, and HCC and HDC.Package II is a 2.7-km stretch from Baroda Palace to Worli Sea Face at an estimated cost of Rs 1,348.39 crore. Firms qualified for this stretch are same as package I along with a JV of ITDC and HEC.While the package IV is a 3.6 km stretch from Marine Drive to Priyadarshani Park at a cost of Rs 1,235.30 crore and the firms qualified for this stretch are CGGC, and two JVs — Dogus, Reliance Infra and NMDC, and JV ITDC and HEC.The firms have been asked to submit their bids till October 31. The BMC is expected the start the construction at end of this year.

Civic body to concretise 5 major South Mumbai roads

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation plans to improve five major roads in its D-Ward. The five major roads the ward has identified are Bomanji Petit Road in Cumballa Hill, Vivek Singh Lane off Peddar Road near Sophia College, Khetwadi 10th lane in Girgaum, Jairaj Bhai Lane near Navjeevan Society in Dadal Estate, and BB Nakashe Road in Janata Nagar in Tardeo. All of these roads are in poor condition at present and the civic body will be reconstructing them with asphalt concrete.The estimated cost of the work on these five roads will be Rs 9.27 crore for which the BMC has floated tenders already. The work will begin post monsoon and will be undertaken in phases in 16 months.”These five roads that BMC plans to revamp are made of paver blocks and cement concrete, which has given rise to many bad patches. Potholes can be filled up easily, but resurfacing bad patches is quite a task. So, we decided to redo entire roads with asphalt concrete,” said an official from Roads Department (City).BMC’s Deputy Chief Engineer, Roads, Pradeep Watave, said, “We have identified 50 areas across 24 civic wards in Mumbai where the condition of roads need to be improved. Tenders for other areas will be floated soon.”

Now, report loud music on BMC’s toll-free nos

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the 10-day Ganpati Festival starting from Friday, and many Ganpati pandals already playing music on loudspeakers, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set up toll-free numbers — 1292 and 1293 — where aggrieved citizens can lodge complaints against noise pollution.In compliance of a Bombay High Court order on noise pollution, the BMC has launched these toll-free numbers as an additional platform for citizens to register their complaints. Earlier citizens could only contact the police control room by dialing 100 to complain about loud music.”The toll-free numbers will be connected to the Disaster Management Team of the civic body who will then transfer the complaints to the Mumbai Police Control Room. The Mumbai police are the only authority who can take action on such complaints,” said Anand Wagaralkar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, BMC.

City has bad roads, mayor gets new car

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The mayor of Mumbai, Vishwanath Mahadeshwar is set to be the owner of the most expensive vehicle officially provided by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The vehicle — Toyota Innova Crysta — costing Rs 19,72,000, will be officially provided by the BMC to Mahadeshwar. A second tender in this regard had been invited on Saturday for a dealer to supply the vehicle.However, providing a new vehicle to the mayor at a time when BMC is failing provide basic civic infrastructure is widely being criticised by political leaders.Abhijeet Samant, BJP corporator and standing committee member, said, “The trend of ‘new mayor new car’ should be changed. When BEST is in such loss and its employees are not getting salaries on time, the mayor should try to save every penny. This expensive vehicle is not a requirement at all. Our mayor is not only the first citizen of Mumbai but also a school principal, and we expect him to set a good example.”Mahadeshwar is currently using Mahindra XUV 500, which was bought during the regime of former mayor Snehal Ambekar.Mumbai Congress Chief, Sanjay Nirupam said, “BEST employees are threatening to strike, roads are bad, trees are not being trimmed, spending such a big amount on a car is not required.”Sheetal Mhatre, former Congress Corporator, said, “The XUV 500 was bought for Ambekar barely two and a half years ago. I don’t think it is that old or in need of replacement.”

BMC wakes up, razes Sunil Shitap’s illegal godown

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has risen up to take action against illegal constructions by Shiv Sena strongman Sunil Shitap. The N ward, on Friday, demolished Shitap’s illegally constructed godown in Altaf Nagar on Andheri-Ghatkopar Link Road (AGLR) after receiving a court order. The city civil court, five to six years ago, had already given a stay order for any construction by Shitap in Altaf nagar, and the locals had complained to BMC about this.Shitap is currently in police custody in connection with the collapse of Sai Siddhi building in Ghatkopar that claimed 17 lives. Turn to P6A letter written by a local activist to BMC’s Chief Engineer Vigilance Department on January 5, 2017 (which is in DNA’s possession) states that even after court’s stay orders on three illegal structures in Altaf Nagar on AGLR, the structures were rented out. It requested BMC to seal the property till the final court’s orders. However, BMC turned a blind eye to the complaint, say complainants.Shitap allegedly had his eye on another plot on LBS road in Gangawadi. He approached the city civil court to protest against the stay on construction in Gangawadi, and on February 2016, the court ruled in Shitap’s favour as the BMC did not appear in court nor filed a written statement to defend itself. On October 2016, Shitap allegedly tried to fix a ready-made structure overnight on the Gangawadi plot. Residents and then NCP corporator Pratiksha Gughe stopped the construction and Shitap filed a contempt of court against Ghuge.An advocate and a resident of Ghatkopar told DNA that, “Shitap had strong nexus with the officers of BMC’s Building & Factory department and the legal department of N ward. Officers Balkrishna Sale and Vishal Sakharkar and clerk Dinesh Karnik of the legal department were known to Shitap. They have carried many illegal construction activities. I had recently filed a five-page complaint against illegal construction in Ghatkopar, but Sakharkar took no action”The advocate says Shitap should be charged with MCOCA. “He has a proper modus operandi where, through his team, he first locates a land, finds ownership details through RTI, grabs the land through his nexus and his illegal activities continue,” the advocate said.After he was named in the Ghatkopar building collapse, Shiv Sena released a press note saying Shitap was not related to the party.”Locals alleged that Shitap threatened them with gun whenever they opposed to his alleged illegal alteration at Sai Siddhi. However, he does not have a gun license,” Sachin Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 7, told DNA. “The police have recorded the statement of a resident who was threatened with a firearm by Shitap,”A senior police official from Parksite police station said, “We have learnt about the involvement of a few civic officials in the building collapse. We have asked the civic body to submit to us all the documents related to Sai Siddhi and Shitap. We are also scrutinizing complaints filed by residents against Shitap at BMC offices.”BMC VISITS SITEBMC’s Additional Commissioner Vijay Singhal visited Sai Siddhi’s site on Friday. He collected statements from the victims. Singhal and two other senior civic officers, Chandrashekar Chore and Vinod Chitore, have been asked by BMC chief Ajoy Mehta to submit a report of the collapse within 15 days from the incident.
“Not only Shitap,” said Singhal, “We will take action against any illegal construction which comes to our notice. It was my first visit after the mishap and it is too early to comment. As the investigation progresses we will take action.”

Ghatkopar building collapse | Plots that Shiv Sena strongman Sunil Shitap tried to grab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The main cause of the building’s collapse is believed to be the unauthorised alterations of the columns and pillars of the maternity home located on the ground floor, owned by Shiv Sena strongman Sunil Shitap. Although Shitap is now in police custody for culpable homicide, this is not the only illegal construction he was involved in. Local residents allege that Shitap is involved in 90 per cent of the plots in BMC’s N-Ward on which there is a stay order on work or the matter is sub judice.Through his nexus with corrupt officials, Shitap also tried to build a godown on a 2,500 sqm plot reserved as a recreation ground of the BMC. A Shiv Sena leader requesting anonymity told DNA, “Shitap got High Court’s permission for construction on the RG plot, on the basis of documents he managed from his contacts in BMC. He acquired the permissions from corrupt officials of the buildings and factory department in the N-ward, who released the documents under the directions of Sudhanshu Dwivedi.” Dwivedi was Executive Engineer in N ward, and Assistant Municipal Commissioner (ward officer) at the time. He was suspended a couple of months ago, allegedly for irregularities in granting permissions.DNA visited the RG plot in Sainath Nagar, located opposite Anand Mangal building. Harish Shah, a senior citizen and resident of Anand Mangal said, “Around March this year, Shitap just dumped some construction material in a godown in the corner of the plot. We kept on resisting, but Shitap used to threaten us. He said no one has the power to stop his work and he will continue.”Shah added that, “The Ghatkopar police were on his side and were defending him. Finally, former Congress corporator Pravin Chheda who also stays in the next building and BJP MLA and Housing Minister Prakash Mehta intervened and raised the matter with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. After the CM’s order, the structure was immediately demolished.

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