Constituency Watch | Malad West Mumbai

Where’s the water, ask voters

Two extremes: The residents of Charkop Gaon in Malad West line up with empty water cans and await the arrival of tankers. The irregular water supply in the area has forced residents to buy water at ₹25 per can. (Right) Motorists ride cautiously on the waterlogged SV Road in Malad.

Two extremes: The residents of Charkop Gaon in Malad West line up with empty water cans and await the arrival of tankers. The irregular water supply in the area has forced residents to buy water at ₹25 per can. (Right) Motorists ride cautiously on the waterlogged SV Road in Malad.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Flooding during monsoon, poor roads, high crime rates and traffic snarls are other issues that may hit prospects of Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh, who is seeking a third term

Water supply is one of the biggest issues plaguing the Malad West constituency, which includes Malvani, the city’s largest slum after Dharavi. Malvani residents have been buying water from illegal dealers for decades.

In addition, massive traffic jams and a high crime rate are some of the other issues that may hit the prospects of Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh, who is looking at a third term. The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Ramesh Singh Thakur from the area, and is banking on Gujarati and north Indian votes.

Neck-and-neck contest

The contest looks like it will be neck-and-neck, as the constituency is a microcosm of Mumbai’s cosmopolitan mix. It is also a mix of residential areas, with housing societies such as Adarsh Nagar, Evershine Nagar, Orlem and Jankalyan Nagar, as well as some of the biggest corporate offices in Mindspace. New Link Road’s Malad stretch, on the other hand, has become a party destination due to the presence of restaurants and pubs. And then there is Malvani, a sprawling slum stretching all the way to the creek.

“For me, the biggest issue is water. Every day, we buy one can of water for ₹25. Bigger families buy up to three cans. I have been hearing promises of getting a water connection for years,” said Ramnarain Singh, an autorickshaw driver.

Hasina Khan, another resident, said, “For the past two years, we have faced a lot of flooding during the monsoon. This year, no nullah-cleaning was done and because of the flood water, I landed with an infected foot. There are no roads on plot no. 5,6 and 7. We only have kuchcha roads, which become a mess in the monsoon. Going anywhere during peak hours is a task.”

Sarsa, a resident of Kachpada slum, said, “In the past, everyone here used to vote for the hand symbol [Congress], but in the Lok Sabha election, the residents voted for Modi. The MLA has not done anything for us.”

Where’s the water, ask voters

In 2014, there were 1.51 lakh voters in the constituency. Mr. Shaikh defeated the BJP’s Dr. Ram Barot with a slim margin of 2,303 votes. In 2009, Mr. Shaikh had won 51,635 votes against the BJP’s R.U. Singh, who secured 23,940 votes.

Mr. Shaikh is popularly known as Aslam Bhai, with a large support base in Malvani. Asked what he had done in the past five years, he listed the Malad Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) as one of his achievements. The WWTF is part of the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project that has been delayed for around a decade.

“Soon, we will start work on the WWTF, which is a ₹4,000-crore project. We have also managed to quell the opposition of Madh residents to the Madh-Versova bridge and will start work on it. The problem of water is only in Azad Nagar, where we have laid new pipelines. Supply should start in November. We will also construct an elevated road from Lagoon Road to Lokhandwala Complex.”

Mr. Thakur is a former MLA from Kandivali and had quit the Congress in 2016 to join the BJP. His son Sagar Thakur is a corporator.

Local versus outsider

“This election is a contest between a local resident and an outsider. People are strongly with me; even the Catholic and Gujarati communities support me. Nobody knows Mr. Thakur,” said Mr. Shaikh. Mr. Thakur was not available for comment.

Mr. Shaikh has declared assets around ₹11 crore and has seven cases pending against him. Mr. Thakur, on the other hand, has declared assets worth around ₹50 crore. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen has fielded Ismail Shaikh from the constituency.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 11:43:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/wheres-the-water-ask-voters/article29729384.ece

Next Story