Parishoners oppose BMC move to acquire land to widen river, road

Parishoners have raised objection to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) alleged move to acquire parts of land of Our Lady of Assumption Church in Kandivali and St Anthony's Church in Malad for river- and road-widening projects.

Corporators, however, said only those areas are being taken that are required for development. Members of Save Our Land (SOUL) Committee alleged the civic body was trying to acquire part of the cemetery, parts of Our Lady of Assumption Church and a portion of St Joseph's school ground on M G Road in Kandivali West for widening Poisar river as part of the Brimstowad project.

"Instead of widening it at points where the nullah is only 4 to 20 metres wide, they want to widen it near the church where it is widest at 36 metres. At some places it is even encroached and so there is no space for water to flow," said Prashant Perreira, SOUL member.

"We suggested alternative methods such as deepening, which was recommended even by an agency as a flood-control measure after the 2005 deluge, but to no avail," he said.

Despite various attempts, L S Vhatkar, chief engineer of BMC's storm water drain department, was not available for comment.

Shailaja Girkar, local corporator, said, "I stay opposite the church and myself have lost 18 feet. Only areas absolutely required are being taken."

Ajit Bhandari, a Malwani corporator, said, "People along the stretch have lost their homes due to this road-widening project. If we need development, some compromise is required."

"Our religious sentiments are hurt because they want a part of the cemetery, which holds relics of our departed loved ones. Apart from depriving around 1,700 children of St Joseph's a place to play, they want to disturb church structure, which is around 400 years old," said Gordon D'Souza, president, Bombay Catholic Sabha.

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