Mumbai, July 19: Actress Kitu Gidwani was roughed up by a bunch of NCP women activists at Monday's meeting of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to assess the environmental safety of the proposed Pedder Road flyover in Mumbai, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Kitu Gidwani, from the group protesting the flyover, got into a scuffle with women workers of NCP . Cops separated the warring ladies, but by then, it was clear that the meeting was over.The 4.6-km flyover is proposed between Lala Lajpatrai College near Haji Ali and Wilson College near Girgaum Chowpatty.
By 2.30 pm on Monday,more than 500 people had gathered at the Institution of Engineers' Hall at Haji Ali.Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC),which is in charge of constructing the flyover, had deputed an official to give a presentation on the flyover.He was shouted down by the members of Pedder Road Residents Association even before he could begin.
There was pandemonium as the MSRDC man kept pleading,even as the opposition screamed abuses against the project.At this stage,around 40 members of NCP,including 15 women,barged inside the hall,shouting pro-flyover slogans.The drama turned further ugly when Gidwani and the NCP women workers clashed.Both alleged the other was abusive.
Three women were seen trying to pin Gidwani down,when the cops intervened.At the behest of MLA Mangal Prasad Lodha,the meeting was called off,within 30 minutes.Nothing was discussed,there was plenty of shouting,abuses and a physical fight that was nipped in the bud.
An NCP woman party worker at the venue said, "These women, they call themselves educated, sophisticated. Do sophisticated and educated women go around calling others prostitutes"
Gidwani alleged that she was attacked without provocation. "They are just trying to turn the issue into another controversy by making baseless allegations", she said.
Veena Singhal,chairperson of Pedder Road Residents Association said, "Shame on MSRDC,and shame on the police,for getting such unscrupulous elements to this meeting.They had stationed these people outside the hall,and once the meeting began,they were smuggled in. But we are not going to back away.They want to force a flyover on us,which will never happen."
For the past several years, most residents of Pedder Road are opposing the proposed flyover,saying that it will be a pollution bomb that will suffocate people whose windows are barely 6 mt from the viaduct.
Mondays hearing,which was the second and final public consultation for the project,was expected to at least show a way forward.Based on the meeting, MPCB was supposed to send a report to the State and the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in Delhi.Last year,the Maharashtra Coastal Management Authority cleared the flyover after a few modifications in the design.
Residents question the need for a flyover when the Bandra Worli Sea Link is being extended to Haji Ali Nariman Point via coastal link.MSRDC has promised to install solar-powered air purifiers,noise barriers and view-cutters.It has claimed that the flyover will reduce pollution as vehicles will be travelling at 40 kmph instead of 18 kmph.