Mumbai: Residents Of Malabar Hill Voice Concerns Over Open Space Conservation In SOBO

Mumbai: Residents Of Malabar Hill Voice Concerns Over Open Space Conservation In SOBO

Several residents of Malabar Hill attended the meeting and raised their fear of 389 trees being chopped for the reconstruction of MHR

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 01:08 PM IST
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X/ @rahulnarvekar

The residents of Malabar Hill raised a concern to save open spaces in South Mumbai - Malabar Hill Reservior (MHR) and Race course at Mahalaxmi in an open discussion on Wednesday. However, Colaba MLA and the Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly, Rahul Narvekar said, "The reservoir has a heritage value attached to it and any alteration will not only affect the geographical topography but the heritage of this city." He assured that the democratic process will be followed while implementing the project.

Open Discussion At Hind Vidya Bhavan

The open discussion was held in Hindi Vidya Bhavan at Marine Lines on Wednesday evening. Several residents of Malabar Hill attended the meeting and raised their fear of 389 trees being chopped for the reconstruction of MHR, which is not required as per the interim report submitted by the four members of the local representatives. The BMC's proposal of Central Park on the open space at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. The joggers and walkers, aeronautics, football players who use the park will also be affected by the changes, fears the residents. 

Rahul Narvekar Pacifies Concerned Residents

Narwekar, who is also among the front-runners for the MP ticket from the Mumbai south constituency including parts of Malabar Hill, assured residents that he also echoed the same sentiment as that of the people. He said that he would meet the newly appointed BMC commissioner Bhushan Gagrani and would discuss the MHR issue. While on the issue of the racecourse, he said that it will continue to be used for the primary purpose - the racecourse, which has been for the last several years. "The racecourse is designated open space for recreational ground and playground (RG-PG), so no question arises about a single structure to come up on the place unless there is change in reservation. Hence, there can never be any development on it," said Narwekar.

MP, MLA Lodha Sends Letter To Open Discussion

Malabar Hill MLA, MP Lodha, who was not able to attend the meeting, had sent a letter in which he listed the steps he had taken to resolve the issue. To decide the fate of MHR, the BMC appointed an expert committee of architects, structural engineers, local citizens' representatives, and four professors of the Indian Instutute of Technology, Bombay (IIT - B) in November 2023. However, after four months, the BMC received two different reports from the members, creating more confusion. So, the BMC has now decided to approach experts from other states to give a final call on the issue. 

Reconstruction Of 135-Year-Old Reservoir In South Mumbai

The 135-year-old reservoir under the Hanging Gardens 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 Rs698 crore. Locals were up in arms against the project as it required the hacking of 389 trees on the plot earmarked for construction of a new tank, with a capacity to hold 90 million litres per day. The tank will be used to supply water for the south Mumbai area  while carrying out reconstruction of the five tanks of MHR. 

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