Mumbai: The residents of Malabar Hill strongly opposed the hacking of 389 trees and also demanded to scrap the plan for reconstruction of the Malabar Hill reservoir in a public hearing held at the BMC headquarters on Tuesday evening. They urged the civic authorities to move the reservoir to an alternate location and the iconic Hanging Garden which is located above the reservoir be left untouched. Considering their suggestions, Mumbai (suburban) Guardian minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha instructed that no new work can be carried out till the BMC comes up with a solution.
The BMC's plan to construct a new water reservoir at Malabar Hill by demolishing the existing reservoir has been stuck after the citizens and activists started opposing this project. In order to find a solution, guardian minister Lodha intervened and called a meeting of citizens and civic officials on Tuesday. "While implementing any new infrastructure project in the city, the trees are hacked. In this way, we will lose the green cover of the city and will also disturb the ecosystem. Reconstructing the reservoir may also loosen the soil of the hill," said the residents in the meeting.
Residents warn of ‘Chipko Aandolan’
Meenal Jain, one of the residents said, "We don't want to lose the green cover, we won't allow us to hack the trees. We will even do a Chipko Aandolan to save the trees."
Demands for experts
Divya Chaudhary said, "The hill is bound by the rocks and by trees over there. If you cut rock and uproot the trees, you will loosen the foundation. By the time the work on the reservoir is completed, the whole hill will be destroyed. Why don't BMC appoint international agencies that are experts in reservoirs? They can suggest alternate solutions."
Dr. Nilesh Baxi, a Tardeo resident said, "After the demolition of one of the gardens for the work of Coastal road, I began walking on hanging gardens, but now this garden, too, may get demolished.The BMC should find a solution rather than destroying this space."
BMC should come up with an alternative solution: Juhi Chawla
Actress Juhi Chawla who attended the meeting said,"The civic authorities have a better eye view than any other person. So it would be best if the BMC themselves come up with an alternative solution to the project.”
Zoru Bhathena, an environmental activist said, "BMC must scrap its plans to build a new water tank adjoining Hanging Gardens and they must build their alternate tank elsewhere. As regards reconstruction of the existing tank, BMC must share all details so citizens can understand why it needs to be demolished. BMC demolished Gokhale Bridge based on BMC's structural audit, despite IIT, VJTI & Railways all certifying the railway portion as safe. The same story should not be repeated at Hanging Gardens Reservoir."
Actress Juhi Chawla | VGP
Lodha suggests alternative places
Lodha said that he had discussed the issue with the chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. He said, "I have asked the municipal commissioner to work on an alternative location for reconstructing the reservoir. Reclaimed land at the Coastal road work site or Mahalaxmi race course can be considered for constructing a reservoir, while water can be pumped through a hydraulic platform." Lodha also took a decision to form a working group among the citizens who would work with the BMC over the issue and also suggest alternate sites. He instructed the civic officials to remove the notices from the trees and the staff quarters at Malabar Hill would not be vacated before October 1.
P. Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects) said, "We are open for any suggestions from the citizens, but these suggestions need to pass the rigour of an engineering test. There is no commercial interest involved in this project and it is being reconstructed only as a reservoir. We can work on the ideas of the residents and see if they are feasible."