Mumbai: Following Guardian minister (suburbs) Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Guardian minister (city) Deepak Kesarkar has entered the fray over the Malabar Hill Reservoir (MHR) issue. He has directed civic authorities to re-audit the project and check if the reservoir can be repaired instead of reconstructed. He also assured residents that the work currently being carried out at the MHR will be stopped until the fresh audit report is presented.
Residents meet Kesarkar
Residents of Malabar Hill met with Deepak Kesarkar on Wednesday to discuss the issue. "I had already discussed the matter with the chief minister, Eknath Shinde. There may be several gardens in the city, but the iconic Hanging Garden has a unique identity. So, we will be consulting a few experts to determine if the work on the reservoir can be carried out without demolishing the garden. There is also an option of increasing the capacity of the reservoir near the post office in the area. MHR was constructed in the British era. At that time, the construction of overhead reservoirs was a very costly affair. But now, many new technologies are available, so we need to check if we can utilise any other option besides reconstruction," said Kesarkar. He was speaking to the media after the meeting with Malabar Hill residents.
He further stated, "Formal directions will soon be issued to the BMC to stop work and re-audit the water tank to explore the possibility of repairing it, as well as finding alternate sites for increasing water storage capacity." Lodha, an MLA from the Malabar Hill constituency, has already taken up the MHR issue by conducting a public hearing last month. The BMC has undertaken the reconstruction of the 136-year-old Malabar Hill reservoir to increase its capacity from 147.78 million litres to 191 million litres to augment water supply to South Mumbai.
More than 389 trees on the earmarked plot will be cut down for the project. Residents have requested scrapping the proposal and finding an alternative location for the new tank. Additionally, a core committee of residents has been formed to suggest alternate locations. Currently, the proposal has been sent back to the Water Supply Department of the BMC to verify that the trees are to be saved, particularly concerning the proposed new reservoir compartment.