The second public hearing ever since the proposal was floated was disrupted like the first in 2008
Geetanjali Minhas | July 20, 2011
A 700-strong public hearing on the Peddar Road flyover at the Institute of Engineers came to an abrupt halt when a group of 50-60 Nationalist Congress Party workers stormed the hall and disrupted the meeting shouting pro-flyover slogans.
Monday's public hearing, organised by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, reflected the strident positions of different stakeholders on teh controversial flyover. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) made a presentation favouring the flyover. Angry residents of the affected localities demanded an interactive session with the government while officials asked them to wait till the presentation was over. However, the outdated 2006 data used by MSRDC in its presentation failed to convicnce the residents, who immediately voiced their opposition. Few minutes into the hearing, as if on cue, NCP activists ganged up at the back of the hall and started shouting pro-flyover slogans. Just as the row between the activists and the residents was almost ending in blows, MLA Mangal Prasad Lodha asked collector Chandrasekhar Oak to call off the meeting.
Ten years after the idea was first proposed, this was the second public hearing after 2008 when it was disrupted in similar fashion.
The proposed 4.1km long flyover will also be the longest in the city built by MSRDC which is under the control of NCP. Residents said that the flyover will violate not just coastal regulation zone rules but will also flout pollution and noise norms. At a distance of merely 1.5 meters, the flyover will be dangerously close to residential buildings. The locals are, therefore, demanding an underground tunnel or even a sea link .
Pritish Nandy, ex-Rajya Sabha member and resident, said, “Goons have been sent by ruling political parties in the state with the objective to disrupt the hearing so that citizens are not heard. The presentation is full of lies and is idiotic. Nobody is in favour of the bridge except those who are going to make money.”
Nirav Doshi, another angry resident said that Peddar Road is on a hilly terrain and MSRDC has not specified height of bridge. “Buildings will be affected due to vibtations and construction activity. MSRDC has taken data of 2006 into account and since then, there has been considerable traffic and cost escalations.”
Architect Parvez Chavda said, “It will take five years to construct this flyover. On Peddar Road ,buildings touch pavements. What will happen when the flyover comes up? This meeting is an eyewash. If the government is serious, it should learn from small cities like Istanbul which have an underpass at big intersections. Why can’t we the same,at Haji Ali, Cadbury Junction, Babulnath, and Chowpatty Bandstand?"
Expessing her concerns about vibrations and noise emanating from the flyover, Sumaira Abdulali, who was present at the meeting said, ”The study has been done only for CRZ violations and no noise study has been done.”
B A Desai, resident, Peddar Road and former additional solicitor general of India said, “This is all vitiated. Rather than destroying the area they should think of an underground tunnel. I am going to give submissions to the chief minister which will also remove polarisation of citizens.”
Veena Singhal, chairperson of Peddar Road Residents Association says that MSRDC is a bankrupt body and there is a tussle between it and MMRDA to construct the flyover. “We are going to file an FIR this evening and meet the environment minister in Delhi. The government should get an independent study done on the flyover rather than rely on studies done by vested interests.”
Other people present included veteran structural consultant Shirish Patel and members of resident associations representing Peddar Road, Altamount Road, Malabar Hill, Carmichael Road and Napean sea Road.
Despite repeated calls the MSRDC chairman and managing director could not be contacted as his phone went unanswered.
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