Traffic woes at the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) will continue to haunt motorists even after completion of the much-delayed road widening work. Two temples -- a Maruti temple and a Suvarna temple -- located in the middle of the road are blocking traffic and also delaying the widening work.
Motorists, who regularly travel on the road, have been complaining of the delay in completion of the road widening work. Now, with the temples obstructing the path and the work, the motorists are expected to face further inconvenience.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials, who are responsible for the road widening work, are facing a tough time as local residents have objected to shifting the temples. The Maruti temple was supposed to be shifted 10 years back but was not moved following residents protests.
For shifting the Maruti temple, a developer was given a contract to build another temple nearby to move the Hanuman idol. "Once the new temple was built, the day of shifting was decided but on that day some people sat on a dharna and the shifting was stalled. For two years the temple was constructed but no idol was placed," Prashant Sharma, the developer, said. "For two years the temple was vacant. So finally we decided to install a Ram idol in the temple."
According to Vikas Chaudhankar, who has been the Maruti temple's caretaker for the past 20 years, the trustee and owner of the temple -- Hari Sridhar Paranjape -- is not against moving the temple. "There are a few people who are opposed to shifting the temple and that too for personal or political reasons," Chaudhankar said.
Residents, however, feel that the temple that has been in the area for over 60 years should not be shifted. "I come here everyday and so does everyone from my family. We don't want the temple to be moved. It is a question of people's sentiments," Kusum Pande, a local resident, said. "The God was born here and he refuses to move. No one will be able to move the temple."
The MMRDA, which has already sent notices to the temple, have given the temple's shifting responsibility to the temple trustee. The other temple -- the Suvarna temple -- which is also located in the middle of the road is, however, still to receive a notice from the MMRDA. "We are trying to shift the Maruti temple, which is a hindrance to the traffic but the people are not cooperating," AR Bidarkar, chief, R&R, MMRDA, said.
Officials from the MMRDA have held a meeting with the residents to find a solution for the issue but to no avail. "One man who spoke in support of the shifting had to keep quiet after the crowd spoke unanimously against him," Bidarkar said.