In a city that’s home to as many pigeons as humans, a posh neighbourhood has decided that it’s all about the survival of the fittest. “I think the BMC is waiting for someone to die before they take any action on the pigeons in Lokhandwala,” says Ramesh Patil, founder member of the Old Lokhandwala Residents Association. “A cop told me the other day, ‘Sir, why do you bother making complaints? Just burst a few crackers and these pigeons will never dare return.’”
Patil has been leading a campaign to do something about the hundreds of pigeons that gather in front of Ashok Academy, a school in the neighbourhood, for quite a while. He says that residents of Lokhandwala, including businessmen and television stars, are tired of these dirty creatures—but nobody seems to understand their plight.
“Instead of flowers, trees in this region are full of pigeons and their shit,” he says. “Just a few months ago, there was news that a cop died because he lost his balance on [his] scooter [because] a pigeon distracted him. This was not in our area, but I think that’s what the BMC wants happening before anyone takes any action.”
A common sight on the road leading up to Lokhandwala circle, in front of Ashok Academy, is that of people standing and feeding the pigeons dana. Patil feels this religious ceremony is at the core of the problem.
“There is a trader who gets discarded rotten grain from somewhere and then makes two of his guys sit next to the pigeon area and sell it. And all Jains stop, buy it and then feed the pigeons because in their religion it’s a good thing to do. But I have done research— there should be designated spots for such kind of stuff. You can’t just do this on the main road.”
The residents of Lokhandwala, Patil reiterates, are not against anyone’s religious sentiments; it’s all a matter of hygiene. “Very soon, people are going to start falling sick,” he says. “What’s the point of putting up ‘Clean Mumbai, Green Mumbai’ hoardings when you can’t even clean up a road?”