Almost every year the monsoon rain bings misery on the people in the Mumbai Metropolitan Area. Buildings and bridges collapse, streets get flooded, nullahs overflow, some people drown, the transport services get hit, landslides occur …The monsoons also rain rupees on various authorities responsible for the building and maintenance of roads. Every year potholes are created, tenders are floated, money changes hands, and potholes are filled or not filled …
So what was new this year? This year when five people died within the limits of the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation due to “accidents” (!!!) caused by potholes on roads, the cup was full and many people decided that they had to act NOW. The newly formed Kalyan-Dombivli Committee of Lok Raj Sangathan decided to take up the issue of potholes as its first campaign.
A demand letter was quickly finalised and the members launched a signature campaign, first in their respective residential areas. On 20th and 21st July a demonstration was organised at Kalyan station. Leaflets were distributed and slogans raised stressing that those responsible for the deaths (the adminstrative authorities and representatives) were criminals and deserved the most severe punishment. Thousands of commuters who use the busy suburban station were rewarded and very impressed by seeing the activists, a majority of them women and young girls, eagerly approaching one and all for their signatures. Many of the activists were women with grown up children, who were doing a public protest for the first time in their lives. Some of these children joined their mothers and told them that they were very proud of them. Passers-by understood that these were not paid goons of any political party, but citizens who really cared for their city and the well-being of its citizens. One and all expressed their support and solidarity.
On July 26 the Lok Raj Sangathan organised a march to the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation. After a demonstration at the gates, their delegates went in to submit the letter along with the nearly 7000 signatures that had been collected. The Executive Engineer took cognizance of their demands and assured them that action would be taken. A meeting was fixed up with the Municipal Commissioner for August 6, in which the officer would give a report of the action taken.
The new activists themselves were so charged up by the experience, they said they really enjoyed the fact that they were doing something for society and not just cooking dal-rotis. They resolved that they would follow up the issue till it was solved and would later take up other essential issues like garbage clearance.