After their political representatives showed no interest in helping them out, residents of Dadar-Parsi Colony, Dadar-Hindu Colony, Matunga and Wadala took out a rally on Sunday to protest the BMC’s new hawkers’ policy, brushing the netas aside.
When local Congress corporator Naina Seth showed up on the scene, none of the citizens acknowledged her presence, even though she signalled for the activists to allow her to make a speech from the dais for two minutes.
“We did not invite any corporator or politician. If they had ever taken interest, we wouldn’t have had to take to the streets. They have now come to show their concern. But when we raised our voice against the draft DP and hawking zones, where were they all? When they were supposed to closely monitor these plans and suggest before-hand”, said a resident from Parsi Colony.
The rally saw the participation of more than 2,700 residents, right from kids to senior citizens, agotating against the intrusion of hawkers in their residential spaces.
The residents along with Mithoo Jesia, Trustee of Mancherji Trust, pledged, “We pledge that we will do everything in our power to protect and preserve the Dadar Parsi Colony and the Dadar Matunga area.”
Against DP meanwhile, citizens groups AGNI and NAGAR staged a protest in different city areas against the visionless and error-riddled draft Development Plan (DP).
Nikhil Desai, F-North ward coordinator from AGNI, said, “We are not against the right to livelihood of hawkers, but why dump them where they are not needed, just to decongest Dadar TT and the main road?”
Sion Welfare Association also arranged a rally, because the new hawking zones demarcated by the BMC leave no space for residents to move at all. “Why would they want to change the heritage nature of the area, while choking development in its name. They have made irrational changes in the DP, which should be discarded,” said Dinshaw R Mehta, chairman of Bombay Parsi Panchayat.
Mehta along with the other prominent parsis of the area and priest Vada Dasturji Kurshed Kekobad Dastoor of Udvada appealed to the people to fight against the BMC’s hawking zones.
Kumar Shah, Hindu Colony resident, said the DP favoured a few big developers close to the government. It is not at all beneficial to landlords of old buildings, mid-level developers, or tenants in old structures, he said. Currently, in the island city, every tenant is assured of at least 35% extra area due to the fungible laws. This will go with the new DP, and the builder will try to squeeze it down to as little as 10%, according to each person’s negotiation skills. Right now the 35% is assured because that benefit of extra area does not accrue to the developer.
“Developers will try and squeeze that area out, and tenants’ consent for redevelopment will be harder to get. Many taxes, charges and premiums have been added in the new DP. And apartment prices will only rise with it.”
Peeved at the gross errors in the draft DP due to lack of knowledge on the officials’ part, AGNI and NAGAR have mounted a ‘Dump the DP’ campaign, as the plan is against citizens and their future.
One set of citizens has even accused the BMC and the state government of playing with the lives of the people by coming up with a development plan driven and dictated by developers. While there is no mention of slums and old buildings, FSI in prime areas is given only to benefit big developers, feel citizens.
“The DP has been made without consulting local residents, leading to inaccurate marking gaffes, like marking of residential areas as commercial. Thus, the proposed DP needs to be dumped,”said AGNI trustee Shyama Kulkarni.