Mumbai: After local residents, now three civil engineers have requested the BMC to consider repairing the existing Malabar Hill Reservoir (MHR) instead of reconstructing it. The proposal for a new reservoir is alleged to be a fraud perpetrated on the citizens of Mumbai, according to the engineers in an open letter sent to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.
BMC to spend Rs 698.5 crore on reconstruction
The civil engineers Shirish Patel, Alpa Sheth, and Dr. Vasudev V. Nori stated in their letter that one of them had visited MHR engineers a few years ago and found it in good shape. "No structure could degrade so rapidly thereafter as to become beyond repair. There does not appear to be any underlying rationale for desiring to increase MHR capacity. Increasing reservoir capacity does not add to water supply; only pipelines do. We believe this may have been missed out by the decision-making authority," said the letter.
The BMC plans to spend Rs 698.5 crore on the reconstruction of a British-era reservoir. However, the existing reservoir can be repaired, and there is no need for a new one, argued the engineers. "The proposal for a new reservoir is a fraud being perpetrated on Mumbai's citizens, particularly those living on Malabar Hill and in its environs. We trust you will stop this project in the interest of citizens, even if doing so goes against the particular interests of your chief engineer," stated the letter. These engineers have been part of the Citizens Technical Advisory Committee to review bridges and confirm if they require reconstruction.
More than 389 trees on the earmarked plot are proposed to be cut down for the project. After stiff opposition from local residents, a core committee of residents has been formed to suggest alternate locations for reservoirs. The proposal has been sent back to the water supply department of the BMC to verify the number of trees that can be saved. Meanwhile, Mumbai Guardian minister Deepak Kesarkar recently assured the residents of re-auditing the project.
The reservoir above the iconic Hanging Garden was built by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (then Littlewood Pallonji Co) with a roof in the 1880s.
BMC intends to increase the capacity of MHR from 147.78 million litres to 191 million litres to augment the water supply to South Mumbai.
The plan to reconstruct the reservoir was made in 2019 after a structural audit. The civic standing committee approved the proposal in February 2022 at a cost of Rs 698.50 crore. The project's deadline is 2029.