One of India’s top voices, Lata Mangeshkar, earned a fair bit of negative publicity for opposing the construction of a flyover on busy Peddar road in Bombay because it threatened to disturb her peace of mind.
Now, one of India’s top TV faces is threatening to follow in her footsteps in Delhi.
On July 29, The Times of India reported that anchor Karan Thapar had opposed the expansion of a flyover in the posh Vasant Vihar area because it would eat into the service lane in front of his house.
“Arguing that this could become “a matter of life and death”, Karan Thapar has written to lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, pleading that “at all cost the service lane between houses 1 to 8, Palam Marg (Olaf Palme Marg), must not be further reduced in width but retained at its present width.”
In the letter dated July 13, Thapar claimed he was speaking on behalf of other residents. “I know that Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief of India Today and Aajtak, and Harmala Gupta, daughter of late Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, endorse and support the request I am making in this letter…”
“The reason this worries me is that even with the present width of 6m, fire tenders cannot with ease access houses on this stretch of the service lane.”
In a follow-up story on August 5, ToI makes mincemeat of Thapar’s claim, quoting residents in the area who see an attempt “to hold the city to ransom for personal benefit”.
“The claim that it will be a matter of ‘life and death’ as fire engines and ambulances will not be able to reach their house is bogus, as is clear from the fire chief’s statement,” said Ratna Sahai, owner of house no 10, Vasant Marg. “The original Rao Tula Ram flyover was meant to be longer and wider. But these people had used their clout to have this altered and truncated into an abbreviated two-lane flyover to protect their precious service lane.” This allegation had earlier been denied.
Refuting Thapar’s claim that he had approached the president of the residents’ welfare association, Gautam Vohra, president of Vasant Vihar RWA, told TOI: “I have never been approached by Karan Thapar regarding the flyover or any related issue. These people have never raised their voice on water or other problems faced by people of the area, nor have they taken any interest in addressing issues of greater public good.”
Rajni Mathur, resident of C block and RWA member, pointed out that these people had themselves reduced the public service road to beautify what they treated as private land. “These are just a few people who don’t even live here and have never come to the RWA. They have encroached upon the service lane with gardens, guard houses and parked cars. They are concerned about their tenants leaving rather than anything else,” she said.
External reading: Express Newsline