Malabar Hill. The name conjures up images of an ancient temple at a spot that Lord Ram was supposed to have visited. The Walik Ishwar (Lingam of Sand) from which came the word Walkeshwar, the Sri Gundi, or holy rock which even Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj passed through, and, of course, hoary tales of the waves of Malabar pirates who would be spotted from the highest point, which was then called Malabar Point.
Today's Malabar Hill is, of course, famous as one of the costliest pieces of real estate in India, and home to the Governor, the Chief Minister, and some of the biggest industrialists of the land.
The Malabar Hill Residents’ Association (MHRA), represents the rich and the famous who make this area their residence.
The genesis of the Association is derived from the Advance Locality Management movement (ALM). Under the ALM concept, local residents’ groups work closely with the MCGM and other statutory authorities, to address and solve the problems in their locality.
The MHRA was thus founded, albeit on a scale larger than an ALM, with the objective of bringing together individuals, housing societies and buildings within clearly defined geographical limits, for the purpose of improving the quality of services and facilities, and preserving the natural heritage of the area.
The Founder Member Trustee and Secretary of MHRA is the feisty and articulate Indrani Malkani who was in the news sometime ago for successfully advocating the principle of "Bussing" children to schools like the Cathedral school.
Malkani stresses the guiding principle of the MHRA, which is is working in partnership with the statutory authorities and elected representatives. “We believe in consultation and not confrontation,” she adds emphatically.
As an Association, she adds, “We have excellent working relations with all the elected representatives including the current Corporator, Jyotsna Mehta. Similarly, there is mutual cooperation with the D Ward MCGM as well as the Malabar Hill Police Station and the Traffic police.”
MHRA works in collaboration on all issues, with V Citizens Action Network (VCAN), where Indrani Malkani is Chairman and Managing Trustee.
Area of MHRA
The jurisdiction of the Association is the Malabar Hill with its boundaries and includes Chowpatty bandstand, Siri Road, Loyalka Marg, Walkeshwar Road, Ridge Road, (from Raj Bhavan to Kemps Corner), Banganga, Doongarsi Road, J.N.Mehta Road, Manav Mandir Road, Ratilal Thakkar Marg, Bhausai Hire Marg (Mt Pleasant Road), Alexander Graham Bell Road, L.D. Ruparel Marg, L.D.Ruparel Cross Lane and Cross Marg, K.S.Tyabji Roads 1,2&3 (Little Gibbs Roads 1,2&3).
We have excellent working relations with all the elected representatives including the current Corporator, Jyotsna Mehta. Similarly, there is mutual cooperation with the D Ward MCGM as well as the Malabar Hill Police Station and the Traffic police.
The ALMs in the MHRA area:
Little Gibbs Roads 1,2, & 3
L. D. Ruparel Road
L. D. Ruparel Cross Marg
Mount Pleasant Road
Ridge Road Nbr.1
Walkeshwar Road Nbr.1
MHRA is focused on creating awareness towards civic rights and obligations, which cover the basic fundamental principles of cleanliness and hygiene and preserving the natural flora and fauna of the Hill.
Malkani lists some of the success that MHRA has achieved:
1. Segregation and collection of dry and wet waste from the area, by a sustained campaign for such segregation in the locality and ensuring free supply of garbage bags by the Housing Societies (an initiative of the ALM of Little Gibbs Roads 1, 2 and 3 in the year 2000).
2. Ensuring greater cleanliness in the area through a closer direct interaction with the D Ward MCGM personnel and various stakeholders in the locality as well as the elected representatives.
3. Ensuring a specific controlled Hawking Zone to maintain overall cleanliness and consequently achieving traffic decongestion (an initiative of the ALM of Little Gibbs Roads 1, 2 and 3 in the year 2000 onwards).
4. Regular interaction with Malabar Hill Police Station to ensure security and safety to the residents of the area. To this purpose, Security Audit by the local police is being carried out.
5. Training imparted to Association volunteers, local police personnel, and D Ward office staff, in emergency medical services and fire-fighting techniques.
6. The Association has facilitated the partnership of the HAM Radio Operators (JNA Wireless Association) with MCGM so that in times of any type of communication failure the HAM Service will be activated. There is now a permanent HAM Relay Station in Malabar Hill situated on the terrace of Acropolis A building, catering to the whole city. Further, MHRA has sponsored the HAM training course in two centers, one in Malabar Hill and one in Ville Parle west, to produce more HAMs for the city. Satish Panjabi, member of MHRA who is also a HAM, is the coordinator for this project.
7. The Association had received a written request from the Assistant Commissioner of D Ward MCGM, to get involved in curbing the spread of mosquito borne diseases.
To meet this objective, MHRA appointed Pest Control India (PCI) to visit all societies, buildings, shops, and establishments in Malabar Hill and conduct a photo audit. This photo audit report document was submitted to MHRA and the D Ward office for record.
The officials of PCI on their visits along with D Ward officials checked the premises and informed all residents of the preventive measures to be taken. PCI also handed over various informative literatures for distribution within societies. Furthermore, the services of PCI were gratis and arranged through MHRA’s contacts, for the visits, inspections, reports and materials for distribution.
As part of the Association’s commitment to work in partnership with the BMC, they requested PCI to loan their “larvaesite spray machines” to the BMC D Ward, as PCI machines are most effective in destroying the larvae. A large number of these spray machines have been loaned to D Ward and are being effectively used in our ward.
8. A line of Laburnum trees have been planted along the footpath, extending from the post office to the All Saint’s Church.
The Mayor of Mumbai inaugurated in April 2008 the Brand Malabar Hill Logo — the Gulmohar with the Hill and the Sea. The Brand Malabar Hill Project, first of its kind in the city, is being executed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) with inputs given by MHRA. The current Viewing Gallery (where the old Naaz Restaurant stood) adjoining the Kamala Nehru Park is now a very well-known attraction.
The first facility in this project was the opening of the Amphitheatre in the Kamala Nehru Park.
This is a facility meant for the city, not just for the residents of Malabar Hill. The children’s play area in Kamala Nehru park has been refurbished by Mangal Prabhat Lodha, the MLA, using money from his MLA funds. The rock-climbing activity was also started for all citizens, but currently it is halted due to some instability of the rocks.
The state-of-the-art public toilet by Sulabh Sauchalya, has fulfilled a much-needed public amenity.
Just behind the police chowky at the famous Teen Batti, the public stairway has been completely renovated to ensure safe public use.
One might argue that being situated in a truly VVIP area has its definite advantages, but the MHRA has shown what a residents' association can really do, with an attitude of cooperation with the civic authorities.