The Nepean Sea Road Residents Forum is carrying out preservation and restoration of Malabar Hill’s lost forest spread across 12 acre, which hosts a diverse array of flora and fauna. The Forum has joined hands with the BMC as well as other private players to carry out the green project.
Though popular among locals and nature lovers, the forest today seems to be falling into a state of disrepair and neglect. The hillock's subsoil has started to give away too due to constant soil erosion, which is exacerbated by vigorous stormwater run-off along the steep slopes. Furthermore, the area is increasingly becoming an avenue for anti-social activities.
Considering these concerns, the forum has set out to preserve and restore the forest’s rich ecosystem, while creating a new, sustainable interface between nature and the city.
“The project seeks to set a precedent for other green, tourist spots in the country by demonstrating how we can enjoy nature while causing minimum disturbance to the environment,” said Forum chairman Rahul Kadri, who is also the project’s architect.
According to the plan, the Malabar Hill Forest Trail will have an elevated, winding, wooden walkway for people to experience one of the last remaining natural ecosystems in Mumbai.
The new, elevated walkway will run a total length of 705 m, taking visitors through the entire length of the forest.
The site will be fenced on the ground level and entry and exit points will be provided at either end of the trail, connecting itto the two existing, prominent points of access for Malabar Hill. Also, a 192-step stairway from the Babulnath temple in the south and a 100-step picturesque stairway carved into the hill from the Hughes road bus stop area in the south-west will be restored as part of the project.
Elaborating about the blueprint, Kadri said, “The trail is set to be constructed without damaging a single tree in the forest. It will be illuminated by warm lighting fixtures placed within the Sal wood balustrade, a strategy centred on keeping light pollution spilling onto the forest floor to a minimum. A network of CCTV cameras will ensure improved supervision of the precinct.”
BMC D ward assistant commissioner Prashant Gaikwad said that the civic body intends to have a ticketing system to protect the forest’s pristine condition. "Nominal ticket price will be charged so that the visitors don’t litter the premises and a watch will be kept on what is being taken inside," he said.
Funded by the BMC's hydraulic department at Rs 16 crore, the project will be ready by November-December end.