A 58-year-old Kishori Pednekar is Mumbai’s 77th Mayor; she is Shiv Sena leader and three-time corporator from Lower Parel in South Mumbai. She is known for her bunt talks and most of the time she attracts controversies because of her verbal spats. Her childhood has gone in the mills of Worli, struggling to survive, being a nurse and now the mayor, Kishori Pednekar is one of the most stubborn women out there. She takes chances and risks when trying to achieve her goals.
During COVID she was out and out visiting various hospitals and personally monitoring every development there. She is also one of the laud moths or one can call it a loose canon of Shiv Sena, attacking opposition or Shiv Sena critics is her favourite time pass.
Born in a mill worker’s house at Worli Naka, Kishori had started her career as a nurse. She worked at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust hospital as she required the money to support her family income. However, after getting married, she moved to Lower Parel with her husband Kishor Pednekar, and the couple suffered financial struggles. It was then that she took up a job as a full-time nurse in 1992 and was also given charge of her area by the Sena.
While she did not have too much support from her husband’s family, she does credit him with making it into the city of dreams. She had to literally multitask from one task to another while taking care of the patients in hospital and her husband’s ailing old grandmother, besides her two children. While doing all this she never ignored her political and social aspirations.
She joined Shiv Sena women’s wing in 1992. She was assigned to work in Raigad and Sindhudurg districts in Western Maharashtra. Soon after that she became a corporator in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in 2002 and was re-elected in 2012 and 2017. During the three terms, she held all key positions and one of them is serving as a member of the standing committee.
Pednekar’s safe water campaign was very famous and that brought her close to Mumbaikar. With a safe water appeal, she took her officials to task and ordered them to focus on roads without potholes. Her office doors were always kept open; probably she is the one such mayor who was always available for public and BMC officials.
She gave priority to Mumbai’s overall development. One of her initiatives is to demolish dangerous and dilapidated buildings. She has recently announced that there are 443 high-risk buildings in Mumbai. Out of these, 56 are owned by the municipality, 27 by the government, and 360 by the private sector. These isolated structures, often became a shelter for anti-social elements, not to mention crime such as rape. She is currently working on the list, gathering the building’s current status, reaching to work with their owners to get them demolished and securing them. The vacated structures need to be identified primarily at the administrative ward level. Therefore, Mayor Kishori started the programme from her own ward in the G-South ward (Worli and Lower Parel) and took it further to other wards.
During COVID when City came to halt and people were struggling to survive, Mayor Kishori was active on all fronts to ensure medical assistance and medicine supply. There were allegations that the major COVID centre tenders were given to her family and friends. There were also allegations that she indulged in huge corruption during COVID time, be it with medicine supply or infrastructural arrangements.
Besides these accusations, she was seen visiting hospitals and greeting health workers. As a former nurse herself, she donated her uniform to show her solidarity and volunteered to serve as a nurse.
Her hard work helped control the casualties during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mumbai. While monitoring the COVID situation, she made sure the vaccine drives went smoothly with an adequate supply of vaccinations. She planned a vaccine distribution strategy for around 40 per cent of the population in the ‘vulnerable groups.’ She made the real-time monitoring COVID-19 mobile application to regulate the vaccination process.
Establishing the first-ever Biodiversity Management Committee goes to her credit. This Committee regulates the admittance to natural resources and helps in the conservation and preservation of diversity. She is also often stressing on the need for green cover in the city to protect the environment. She urges the Mumbaikars to plant at least two trees on their birthday or any important day to add to the green cover and increase BEST (Bombay Electric Supply & Transport) use buses to reduce road congestion and pollution.
The issues of health, water and sanitation have been given personal special attention with the help of the ‘shakha pramukh’ and her subordinates. She promised good roads for the citizens but somewhere this promise of hers is yet to be fulfilled. But her efforts can’t be ignored; she was the most connected corporator on grounds and now the most available Mayor in Mumbai’s history.