Mumbai: BMC Scraps New Tank Proposal, Saving 389 Trees And Iconic Hanging Garden At Malabar Hill Reservoir

Mumbai: BMC Scraps New Tank Proposal, Saving 389 Trees And Iconic Hanging Garden At Malabar Hill Reservoir

A team of experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee inspected the reservoir this week, after BMC sought their opinion on the two contrasting reports.

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Friday, June 07, 2024, 10:39 PM IST
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Mumbai: The proposal to construct a new tank required for reconstruction of the 136 years old Malabar Hill Reservoir (MHR), will be scrapped by the BMC, said Guardian minister (suburb) MangalPrabhat Lodha on Friday. The civic body can carry out repairs of the reservoir, thus saving 389 trees on the plot earmarked for construction of a new tank. The decision overjoyed the citizens of Malabar hill who had raised voices against the demolition of the iconic Hanging Garden for the project.

Locals were up in arms against the project as it required the hacking of several fully grown trees for a new tank with a capacity to hold 91 million litres per day. The tank would be used to supply water for the south Mumbai area while carrying out reconstruction of the five compartments of the reservoir. The iconic Hanging Garden was also to be demolished for the project, which was strongly objected by the residents. So, after the intervention of Lodha, an eight member committee was formed to decide on reconstruction or repair of the reservoir in November 2023. However, the panel got split into two groups – one from IIT-B and another from architects and citizen representatives; the BMC official being the neutral member. The two groups presented conflicting reports, creating deep confusion.

A team of experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee inspected the reservoir this week, after BMC sought their opinion on the two contrasting reports. Meanwhile, Lodha met municipal commissioner Bhushan Gagrani and demanded to scrap the tender for construction of the new tank. "IIT Roorkee's report is awaited, but it is almost certain that immediate construction of the entire thing is not required," said Gagrani. Lodha said, One of the remaining open spaces in our hands is the Hanging Garden, a significant spot. We must respect the citizens who use this space and its natural beauty. The reservoir can be repaired without cutting down trees."

Dr. Nilesh Baxi, who has been at the forefront of the issue in the wake of the large number of trees which would need to be axed for the reconstruction of the reservoir said, "We welcome the decision as it will save 389 old trees and gardens and will also save Rs. 1,400 crore of public money that would have been spent on the rebuilding of old tanks and for new additional tank."

Going back two months, the two conflicting reports were presented to the BMC on March 5. The experts from IIT-B recommended constructing a new tank with a usable capacity of 52.44 million litres per day to empty the existing tanks for reconstruction. The other members of the panel representing citizens and architects stated that the reservoir does not require demolition or reconstruction for the next 10–15 years as there is no danger of collapse disrupting the water supply. The century-old reservoir beneath the Hanging Garden supplies 147 million litres of water per day to south Mumbai. Its reconstruction and augmentation proposal was approved in February 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 698 crore. 

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