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Sunday, May 19, 2024

How the thefts in lockdown led to the rise of Mumbai residents using WhatsApp groups

Shalini Shome, who lives in the area, says, “Until then, we were so caught up in our own lives, we didn’t even know our next-door neighbor.” Most neighborhood buildings were burglarized. Most late-night thefts occurred. Shome claims watchmen’s cash and valuables were stolen.

Out of anxiety and powerlessness, residents created Vigilance 6th, 10th, 11th, and 12 Roads on WhatsApp to monitor the small length. Watchmen whistled if they observed something unusual. “A theft was likely if the whistle lasted longer than usual. She believes this alerted everyone.

Another pandemic-affected worker organization. It listed home businesses.

Kayomi Engineer (left) and Dilly Dalal of Dadar Parsi Colony said joining the neighborhood WhatsApp group made them aware of its needs. Pic/Atul KambleKayomi Engineer (left) and Dilly Dalal of Dadar Parsi Colony said joining the neighborhood WhatsApp group made them aware of its needs. Pic/Atul Kamble

Alka Kelkar, the vigilance group’s former corporator, contacted these Khar support organizations. Roads, garbage, gutters, and parking have been addressed by the group. Shome says the corporator escalates and fixes the issue within hours.

DPC resident Kayomi Engineer believes this practice has been used for a decade. In 2015, citizens signed a petition after the Centre awarded 1,800 hawkers pitch licences under the Street Vendors Act 2014. “Three or four streets in our locality were earmarked for pitch licenses,” she recalls. WhatsApp had 40 members. “It was a way to follow up.” Engineer adds, “As we progressed, we thought it would be a nice way to bring the [DPC] community together. The group flourished with new members. It promoted local pride.”

MEJCRG had residents from each building. Members invited corporator Amey Ghole. Engineer recalls agreeing easily. The ALM, Mancherji Edulji Joshi Colony Residents Association, Solid Waste Management, Storm Water Drainage, and corporator created another WhatsApp group for emergencies. Engineer says, “We were administratively creating a communication platform. Floods and garbage decreased. “We informed residents of BMC’s systems and processes.” Engineer and others cleaned up after hurricane Nisarga, which killed many trees.  

Khar’s 6th, 10th, 11th, and 12th road inhabitants formed a WhatsApp group as thefts surged during the lockdown. Pic/Anurag AhireKhar’s 6th, 10th, 11th, and 12th road inhabitants formed a WhatsApp group as thefts surged during the lockdown. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Septuagenarian Dilly Dalal posts trash and untrimmed branches on Facebook groups. “Informed,” she says. Work is also communicated. Infrastructure difficulties have prevented BMC officers from helping. Gajanan Belalle, our assistant municipality commissioner until last month, was excellent—cooperative and supportive. Continue the good work, new officials.” 

 Social media has helped residents move rapidly. Govandi Citizens was created by 27-year-old Shaikh Faiyaz Alam. He says the organization was created during the lockdown because people, many of whom live in slum pockets, needed a forum to vent their concerns. Because literacy is limited here, we visited families to request Twitter followers.

SMS Envoclean’s Govandi-Deonar biomedical plant started the forum. Alam claims it caused illness and deaths 100 meters from residential areas. RTI records until September 2022 show 1,877 TB deaths in the ward since 2013. 5,000 persons contract TB yearly. Alam says, “We filed petitions with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and sent legal notices [to the state government and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board]. We persisted. Authorities observed.”

Govandi Citizens, an informal citizens welfare forum, and Shaikh Faiyaz Alam (second from right) petitioned the government to move the biomedical facility. Pic/Satej ShindeGovandi Citizens, an informal citizens welfare forum, and Shaikh Faiyaz Alam (second from right) petitioned the government to move the biomedical facility. Pic/Satej Shinde

March’s NGT pollution control board and district magistrate committee probed SMS Envoclean’s environmental violations. Law student Alam expects the MPCB and BMC will resolve land allotment and transfer the incinerator.

He promoted CBSE and ICSE schools and beautification as Govandi New Sangam Welfare Society president. We fight manual scavenging. M East Ward manual scavengers are unprotected. The National Human Rights Commission demanded a report from the collector four weeks after we revealed our results.

CCWA president Mandeep Singh Makkar represents 30 local residential communities. Their issues include sidewalk encroachment, illegal hawking, and the 90 Feet Road that will decrease travel time from Chandivli Farm Road to Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR). Makkar says, “There’s a single-lane, narrow road that’s highly disruptive. Cement, tar, potholes, paveblocks—you name it.” 400 residents marched for better roads and paths in February. They wanted a fire engine.

December Juhu Wireless Affected Residents Association protest march. December Juhu Wireless Affected Residents Association protest march.

2016 saw a high-rise fire. Makkar, who owns a firm, says, “After the incident, a mini fire station opened in the area, but there has been no fire engine or security guard there for many months. Many were hurt and seven died. They risk lives.” The association has 995 “very active” WhatsApp members.They always publish images and videos. Our members tweet about our causes to get our MLA and MP’s attention. 

Some tasks require perseverance. Chartered accountant and former HR College instructor BB Lakdawala knows best. JWARA was founded by JVPD Scheme residents. “We have a World War II defense wireless signalling station,” says Lakdawala.

To minimize radio signal blockage during the 1976 emergency, the Army issued the SRO 150 order under the Works of the Defence Act, banning structures near the signalling station to 15.24 meters. Regulation was neglected post-Emergency. Nearby constructions appeared.

Lakdawala said the Army used antiquated laws in the 2009 Adarsh Housing Society scam. BMC canceled house redevelopment. The Army restricted rebuilding within 500m of the station. This affects about 50 residents and many more in crumbling dwellings.

Lakdawala founded an organization five years ago to represent exhausted citizens. The Prime Minister and Defence Ministry haven’t responded to letters, but local backing has given them hope. December JVPD protests. Elderly people have died for 14 years. JWARA will fight—everyone deserves dignity.”

Nitin Bhatnagar
Nitin Bhatnagar

I am an avid writer with a passion for writing on different topics related to Bollywood, Hollywood, sports, health, current affairs, viral stuff and news.

Nitin Bhatnagar
I am an avid writer with a passion for writing on different topics related to Bollywood, Hollywood, sports, health, current affairs, viral stuff and news.

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