Mumbai: SoBo Residents, Officials Convene To Debate Future Of Malabar Hill Reservoir & Mahalaxmi Racecourse

Mumbai: SoBo Residents, Officials Convene To Debate Future Of Malabar Hill Reservoir & Mahalaxmi Racecourse

Residents hold open discussion with Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar; he assures to convey their grievance to new BMC chief

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 12:57 AM IST
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Malabar Hill Reservoir | Representational photo

Amid the ongoing debate on the contentious issues faced by south Mumbai, an open discussion was held on Wednesday to discuss the hanging fate of the Malabar Hill reservoir and the controversial proposal to build a Central Park at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse.

Held at Hindi Vidya Bhavan, Marine Lines, the meeting was attended by the residents and Colaba MLA and Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar. Mumbai suburban guardian minister and Malabar Hill MLA, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, could not make it.

Narwekar, who is one of the front-runners for the MP ticket from the Mumbai south constituency, said, “The reservoir has a heritage value attached to it. Any alteration will not only affect the geographical topography but also the heritage of this city.” He assured that the democratic process will be followed, while taking a final call regarding the project. The residents reiterated their fear of 389 trees being chopped for the reconstruction of the reservoir.

Similarly, they expressed concerns on the BMC's proposal of building a Central Park on the open space at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. The joggers, walkers and football players, who use the ground, will be affected by the changes, the locals asserted. Narwekar said that he would meet the newly-appointed BMC commissioner Bhushan Gagrani and would discuss the Malabar Hill reservoir issue. With regard to the Racecourse subject, he said that it will continue to be used for the primary purpose just like the last several years.

"The Racecourse is designated an open space for recreational ground and playground. Hence, there is no question that even a single structure will come up on the place unless there is change in reservation. Hence, there can never be any development on it,” said Narwekar. Lodha, who was not able to attend the meeting, sent a letter, detailing the steps he had taken to resolve the issue.

To decide the reservoir's fate, the BMC had appointed an expert committee of architects, structural engineers, local citizens' representatives and four professors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in November 2023. However, after four months, the civic body received two different reports from the members, creating more confusion. So, the BMC has now decided to approach experts from other states to take a final call on the issue.

The 135-year-old reservoir beneath the Hanging Gardens daily supplies 147 million litres 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 proposed tank will be used to supply water for south Mumbai, while carrying out reconstruction of the reservoir's five tanks.

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