Mumbai News: Residents Rally Against BMC's Controversial Plan For Elevated Road Over Khar Subway

Mumbai News: Residents Rally Against BMC's Controversial Plan For Elevated Road Over Khar Subway

Hemal Mehta, President of SERA, echoed concerns about the detrimental impact of the elevated road on the scenic east-side garden and adjacent residential areas

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 09:49 PM IST
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Khar subway | FPJ

Mumbai: Residents of Khar East and West, nestled between the Santacruz and Khar stations in Mumbai, are vehemently opposing the proposed construction of an elevated road over the existing Khar subway by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). While acknowledging the necessity of an alternate east-west connection, locals argue that the current blueprint will exacerbate traffic congestion and jeopardize well-planned neighborhoods adorned with ancient, resilient rain trees.

Expressing their dissent, three influential residents' associations – the Santacruz East Residents Association (SERA), the Mumbai North Central District Forum (MNCDF), and a collective representing Khar-Santacruz West residents – have formally communicated their objections to the municipal commissioner and the bridges department. In addition, they have scheduled multiple gatherings over the upcoming weekend to strategize against the proposed development.

The Khar Residents Association, alongside representatives from key local forums, took a decisive stance on the proposed Khar West/East Elevated Bridge during a significant meeting held at the Khar Library on April 14th. Attended by approximately 50 core members, including activists, professionals, and concerned citizens, the consensus was resolute. The collective voice of the community demanded the scrapping of the current tender due to fundamental design flaws. In its place, they urged the BMC to explore alternative solutions that prioritize improved connectivity between the east and west. Emphasizing the importance of citizen engagement, the assembly underscored the necessity for comprehensive consultations before any new design proposals are put forth.

Hemal Mehta, President of SERA, echoed concerns about the detrimental impact of the elevated road on the scenic east-side garden and adjacent residential areas, she said, ""The proposed elevated road intersects with a garden on the eastern side, posing a significant impact on the adjacent residential area." Similarly, Joachim Carvalho, a spokesperson for the Khar-Santacruz West residents' group, underscored the historic significance and well-planned nature of the Santacruz West neighborhood, emphasizing that the proposed flyover threatens to disrupt its harmonious environment, "The Santacruz West neighborhood, crafted as a residential haven around a century ago, boasts of schools, a church, crossroads, and towering ancient trees. All of these cherished features face potential destruction if the flyover is implemented in this area," he said.

Concerns Raised Over BMC's Flyover Design And Planning Process

In a joint letter addressed to the BMC in March, the concerned residents delineated flaws in the current design, particularly critiquing the unsuitability of the entry and exit ramps located at 2nd Hasnabad Lane (North) and 2nd Hasnabad Lane (South) to accommodate high traffic volumes. Moreover, they raised concerns about the exit ramp's proximity to the Vakola metro station, foreseeing a bottleneck scenario.

Highlighting the lack of citizen consultation in the planning process, Advocate Trivan Kumar Karnani, founder of MNCDF, criticized the BMC's unilateral decision-making. "For years, we've been advocating for an east-west connector, yet the BMC has abruptly proposed this flawed plan without consulting citizens. The flyover crosses a narrow 9-meter road, flanked by schools, hospitals, and gardens. It appears the BMC is prioritizing other interests, disregarding both citizen input and traffic department recommendations," said Karnani.

Urban Planning Concerns In Khar

Architect and urban planner Alan Abraham, residing in Khar, emphasized the disproportionate burden placed on the Khar subway, which serves as a crucial east-west conduit in the city's transportation network. Abraham cautioned against the adverse impact of erecting massive pillars for the elevated road, which would encroach upon valuable road space and mar the aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood, characterized by its lush rain trees.

Proposing alternative solutions, Abraham advocated for the implementation of east-west connector roads outlined in the development plan or the removal of illegal encroachments along proposed routes in Golibar. He argued that these measures, if executed, would alleviate pressure on the Khar subway at a lower cost and in a timelier manner than the current proposal.

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