Aarey not an election issue in Jogeshwari East | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Aarey not an election issue in Jogeshwari East

By, Mumbai
Oct 16, 2019 12:09 AM IST

While cutting of 2,000 trees to build the Metro-3 depot at Aarey Colony may have led to protests, in Jogeshwari (East) constituency, which houses most of Aarey Colony, it is not even an election issue. Delay in slum rehabilitation projects, traffic snarls and road infrastructure are things that matter more to the residents.

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The constituency includes Jogeshwari east, the area along the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, Aarey Colony and Meghwadi, among other areas. There are seven candidates in the fray. Sitting MLA is Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Waikar, who is also the minister of state for housing in the current BJP-Sena government in the state.

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Waikar has hold over this area and has been getting elected from here since 2009. One of the Sena leaders that have been close to the party leadership, Waikar was also a corporator from this area since 1992 and headed the civic standing committee that controls civic body’s treasury.

He is pitted against Congress’s Sunil Kumre, who belongs to the tribal community. Kumre has been active in the constituency for years, but not a very familiar face due to his low profile. The Aam Aadmi Party has given a ticket to social activist Vitthal Lad. For the past 37 years, he has been working at Adivasi Padas and slum pockets. He has played a significant role in giving identity to the Adivasi Padas from Aarey.

Local activists said Aarey tree-cutting is an important issue in the constituency, but for the people who mostly come from working class and lower middle class, the problems that affect their daily life are priority.

Nearly 70% of the population in this constituency stays in slums. At areas such as Bandra plot, Prem Nagar and Meghwadi, several slum development schemes are delayed. The Opposition parties claimed Waikar did nothing to speed it up, despite holding the housing development portfolio. Waikar, however, blamed the slowdown in the market.

Heavy traffic snarls are seen on main roads like Western Express Highway, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, and Aarey road. Narrow roads, open drains and encroached footpaths are major issues . Lack of proper health services and water issues are among the other problems.

“This constituency lacks a good hospital despite a huge population living in slums. People are forced to rush patients to Cooper, Bhagavati or Kandivali in case of an emergency. Despite nearly three lakh voters, there are no medical facilities, roads, water or town planning,” said Lad.

Activists pointed out several issues such as widening of Jogeshwari platform and providing bus and other facilities on north end of the station. In 2014, Waikar defeated BJP candidate Ujjwala Modak with a margin of around 30,000 votes. “In my constituency, I ensure no work is pending owing to funds,” said Waikar.

The Aarey colony houses 27 Adivasi Padas, which lack basic amenities. They have nearly 15,000 voters. “The Fadnavis government is now saying that Aarey is not a forest. Then why do they need nod from a 25-member green tribunal to spend the development fund on the area’s needs,” asked Kumre.

“The people of Jogeshwari are connected with the Aarey issue. But in the other issues, Jogeshwari East is not getting the required focus. It is because a majority of the population lives in slums, which lack basic facilities,” said Nitin Kubal, another social activist.

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    Kailash works with the political team and has been covering transport beat for over a decade. He is interested in travel and music.

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