Seemingly, no solution in sight appears for the contentious issue of reconstructing the British-era Malabar Hill reservoir located beneath the Hanging Gardens. Mumbai suburban guardian minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha on Tuesday instructed the BMC to extend the deadline of the technical expert committee – set up to decide the project's fate – by 45 days. Appointed last month, the panel was expected to submit a report on reconstruction or repair of the reservoir by December 1.
In his letter to BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal, Lodha said, “We held a meeting on October 31 regarding the reservoir's expansion and it was also decided that the committee will submit its report by December 1. However, the committee didn't get sufficient time to prepare a proper report due to (several) government holidays in November. We instruct the authorities concerned to extend the tenure of the said committee by 45 days.”
BMC has not held committee meeting, say members
Sarosh Bana, Malabar Hill residents core committee member, said, “There has been no movement forward since the time a technical committee was set up. The BMC has the onus of holding the committee meeting, but they have not done it so far for whatever reasons. If the committee doesn't meet while the BMC is in a hurry to get the project done then the entire issue is at a crossroads.” The civic body wants to resolve this entire controversy at the earliest, but it hasn't convened even the committee's first meeting yet, the member added.
The expert panel comprises Indian Institute of Technology Bombay professors Ashok Goyal, R S Jangid, Jothi Prakash and Dasaka Murthy, architect Rahul Kadri, civil engineers Dr Vasudev Nori and A Seth who are also local representatives, and Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Special Engineering) Chakradhar Kandalkar. Their task is to find out if the existing reservoir can be repaired and if needed, is it possible to reconstruct the reservoir in a phased manner without disrupting water supply to citizens.
The committee was set up following vehement opposition from locals as the project required closure of the Hanging Gardens and axing of 389 full-grown trees. In May 2022, the BMC awarded a contract to M/s Skyway Infraprojects Pvt Ltd for reconstructing the reservoir. The municipality intends to increase the reservoir's capacity from 147.78 million litres to 191 million litres to augment the water supply to south Mumbai.