In Focus

For a few, Diwali this year was laden with 'risk'

By Manu Shrivastava

This year, Colaba residents and traders waited with bated breaths for Diwali that came as a symbol of hope that things are finally getting better and returning to normalcy. And, for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic. For a few of them, however, Diwali, turned out to be disastrous and for no fault of their own. 

In Colaba's Third Pasta Lane, just before Diwali, the civic authorities arrived one day and started digging the pavement to lay a new water pipeline, apparently to supplement the existing water supply that was falling short. They dug out the footpath, removing paver blocks and made deep trenches, at several spots, before leaving the area by afternoon. The next day, they didn't arrive nor the day after. The dug pavement lay unattended risking lives of residents and passersby. Diwali, needless to say, was a dampener for the lane's shopkeepers who could do nothing but suffer in silence.

HIGH RISK: The trench dug right outside Durgesh Gujar's shop affected his business drastically
Belgian Waffles and More proprietor Durgesh Gujar was furious when he realised the entire stretch of footpath in front of his outlet was gone and what remained was a four-feet-deep trench staring right at his shop that stood precariously at the edge. Durgesh, like most vendors, had pinned his hopes on Diwali season when he felt business would finally pick up after the pandemic lull. "This is the time when people come out with their families and friends and spend. And, to have the access to your shop completely blocked is the worst that can happen," he rued.

DEEP TROUBLE: Trenches dug out at several spots along Third Pasta Lane inconvenience residents
Not just did the work affect his business, the deep trench posed a risk to his customers, staff and himself. "The labourers told me the work will be completed in two days and now it has been ten days and nothing has been done. If they didn't intend to finish the work, why did they start it in the first place?" he maintains.

Fearing for the well-being of their customers and passers-by, the staff at a D-Mart Ready assembled the paver blocks back on the footpath. The unevenly-pulled out paver blocks were posing a serious threat to their customers whose influx increased during Diwali. After waiting for a week, they decided to take things in their own hands and put the paver blocks back in position.

QUICK FIX: The staff at D-Mart Ready put the paver blocks back in position for their customers' safety
Munshi Chambers' Kalpana Matching Centre owner Navin Jain fears for the children who come down to play in evenings. "Many children play here on the footpath and at the end of the lane. The deep pits pose a serious risk to their lives. Not just that, this is festival season and the first one after the pandemic. This is the time the traders wait for the whole year and at this time to leave footpath work incomplete is terrible," he feels.

LITTLE THINGS: Navin Jain feels the deep pits pose high risk to the children who play in the area
Another resident who lives with septuagenarian mother was left fuming at the timing of the work. He says, "People have a hundred things to attend to during festival season. During this time, so many people lost their balance or didn't see the trench and fell in it. One man fell in it at noon, in broad daylight, and it's even riskier in mornings and nights when the women, children and senior citizens step out."

"Fearing a mishap, my mother doesn't even leave home. They should have at least covered the trenches or put up warning signs. Many guests who were visiting the residents during Diwali got hurt because of the shoddy work," he maintains.

Dorothy Yazdegardi
Meanwhile, the walls alongside a few of Colaba's roads are being 'beautified' and 'lit-up' apparently for the benefit of residents. 

"Now, that is of little consequence to us, senior citizens who face the risk of falling and suffering serious injuries to the dismal apathy of the authorities," says senior citizen and character actor Dorothy Yazdegardi.

"At a time when the civic polls are approaching, the political representative must be held responsible for ensuring road repairs and safety of residents which is of pivotal value," she adds.

NEWS UPDATE:10 November 2021
Within 24 hours of bringing this issue to the notice of BMC Corporator (Ward No 227) Makarand Narwekar on the evening of 9 November 2021, the dug-up pavement on Third Pasta Lane was swiftly restored to its original form. Residents of Third Pasta Lane woke up on 10 November 2021 to surprisingly find the trenches refilled and the pavement restored to ground level. Needless to say, it was a pleasant discovery for the shopkeepers and residents.

RESTORED: The dug-up trench on the pavement at Third Pasta Lane was refilled and, temporarily, restored

And, as assured, the new water pipeline is expected to be installed soon. The Draft Colaba's news will continue to impact, and positively, Colaba's residents. 

Keep watching this space for timely updates.

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