H West, where disorderly development heads north
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Not long back, H West was popular as queen of the suburbs, a picture of neatly arranged villas, bungalows, gothic churches, green spaces and a jubilant community culture. This has given way to uneven, even ugly, unplanned and haphazard constructions, encroached lands, hawkers and noisy, congested roads.
The blame is put on the civic administration's lack of a stringent approach to prevent illegal constructions, encroachments and hawkers. The suburb has lost its true character. The ward has areas of Bandra West, Khar West, Santacruz West. Hill Road and Linking Road, Bandra's major roads, continue to be heavily congested due to illegal hawkers on the road.
Despite high citizen activism and increasing awareness on civic amenities, the civic administration remained a mute spectator.
The ward is home to high-profile citizens including film personalities and politicians and among coveted locations for restaurants, pubs and high-end eateries. It has been in news for demolition drives by BMC to remove illegal eateries. After heightened citizen activism and repeated complaints from residents, BMC had razed about 20 eateries and pubs on Carter Road in Bandra. In another drive in 2010, Bandra police had forced more than 20 eateries in the area to shut for three days for operating without license.
BMC drives against illegal structures or restaurants operating without license have short-term results.
The reported nexus between civic officials and private builders— the area has rising commercial development, legal and illegal— has come in the was of a long-term solution. As a result, despite protests against illegal construction, it continues.
"There is a complete lack of implementation of anti-hawkers policy. Irregular structures are not demolished. There has been no programmed infrastructure development, with civic officials working hand-in-glove with builders who redevelop buildings without following rules of maintaining open spaces etc," said Aftab Siddiqui, activist and chairperson of a Khar ALM.
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