• An Appeal for Peoples' Movement 
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In the seventies, the Government of Maharashtra proposed to reclaim 100 acres of land and convert Malabar Hill into another Nariman Point. This project was opposed by a Peoples’ Movement. The movement was spearheaded by Save Mumbai Committee and Save Breach Candy Committee, led by leaders like Shri Rajani Patel, Shri R K Karnjia, Shri Kishan Mehta, Dr R H Dastur, Shri Murli Deora, Dr L H Hiranandani and Shri B A Desai. The Movement succeeded and the Government had to drop the plan. The Save Breach Candy Committee was converted into Malabar Hill Citizens Forum with Shri B A Desai as its President.

In the meanwhile, a portion of the land was reclaimed. The Builders wanted to construct Skyscrapers on the said reclaimed land. Shri B A Desai, then MLA and Minister, opposed the Builders’ plans and wanted to preserve the land both at Napeansea Road and Bhulabhai Desai Road as Open Spaces, Gardens and Recreation Ground. As a result of this Peoples’ Movement, we now have Priyadarshini Park and Sports Complex, Tata Gardens, Amarsons Park and a proposed Children’s Park in our area. 

Once Again a need for People’s Movement!!

Shockingly, the Maharashtra Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is going ahead with a project, detrimental to the entire, and our so called Posh Area of South Mumbai.

The MSRDC wants to destroy the entire ambience of the area and has come with a preposterous plan, to implement the Western Freeway, beyond Haji-Ali upto Nariman Point by digging a dangerous Malabar-Hill Tunnel. MSRDC also proposes Sea Bridge from Haji Ali to Priyadarshini Park just 100 mts away from Coastline obstructing Sunrise, Killing the Horizon and Polluting Sea Breeze with Poisonous and Emissions of Carbon Dioxide from Vehicular Traffic on the Sea Bridge.

The project also envisages to construct huge concrete ramps on the Priyadarshini Park itself, also at Bhulabhai Desai Road and one more at the Chowpatty Bandstand causing grave devastation, havoc, congestion, and pollution and environmental degradation to our so called Posh Area.

It is surprising that MSRDC, while appointing the Consultant to carry out the feasibility study for this project beyond Haji-Ali upto Nariman Point, has specifically excluded the option of a direct tunnel from Haji Ali to Nariman Point or upto Chowpatty, thereby at the threshold itself, preventing the Consultant from examining the said proposal and presenting us with a fait accompli of the dangerous Malabar Hill tunnel.

The citizens of entire Malabar Hill and the surrounding areas support the option of an underground tunnel from Haji Ali to Chowpatty Bandstand and beyond!

We have to stop the sinister project by organizing a Peoples’ Movement. 

As a first step, Mr Milind Deora, M P, had written a letter to the Chief Minister, opposing this plan of ruining the ambience and digging Malabar Hill tunnel and also destroying the prestigious Priyadarshini Park.

Shri B A Desai, Former Urban Development Minister, Former Additional Solicitor General of India, four times MLA and Corporator from Malabar Hill Area, has also written a letter to the Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Public Works Minister Dr (Mrs) Vimlatai  Mundra, voicing our concerns.    

 Shri Bitu Saigal, an environmentalist and Shri Kantibhai Shah, of the Priyadarshini Parivar and others have filed a petition in the Mumbai High Court.  The said petition, opposing the Sea-Link, is coming up for hearing on 26th of February, 2009. 

We are sure that you, as a resident of the area, wish to prevent this disastrous plan. Please express solidarity with this People’s Movement by signing Our Online Petition. You may also sign the Written Petition placed at Site Office of the Priyadarshini Park and Sports Complex.

Should you require detailed information about the petition pending in the High Court filed by Shri Bitu Saigal, kindly view the same at www.susiiebenshah.com

We look forward to your support, to save our Area from an Environmental and Traffic Disaster.

Should you require more information on the subject do call me on   +91 9821228125.

With personal regards,

February 10, 2009

Shri Ashok Chavan
Hon'ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra

Sub: Western Freeway Sea Link – Grievances of Cumballa Hill, Malabar Hill, Napeansea sea Road, Pedder Road, Mahalaxmi & Hughes Road Residents.

Respected Sir,

It so transpires that the WFSL, beyond Haji Ali upto Nariman Point is to be implemented by digging a Malabar Hill Tunnel, through the Priyadarshini Park & Sports Complex and under the Building\Sky-Scrappers of Malabar Hill.

It is felt that the above project, if implemented, will not only destroy the natural ambience of Napeansea Road, Malabar Hill, Cumballa Hill Area, Pedder Road,Girgaum Chowpatty. Also, the plan will cause heavy traffic congestion and air- pollution in the area.

In view of the above, we submit the following, for your kind consideration,

We understand that in the 60's the Government of Maharashtra had appointed Wilbur Smith Committee to look into the transport problem of Mumbai. Wilbur Smith Committee had suggested that a Western Freeway Sea Link going from Bandra to Nariman Point and Eastern Freeway Sea Link going from Nariman Point to Sewree, thus, encircling Mumbai to avoid traffic congestion.

It may be stated that the issues of Environment, global warming and climate change did not exist in the Sixties. Your goodself are perhaps also aware that only after 1972 Stockholm Conference these issues came to the fore and since then various acts, protecting the Environment have been enacted by the Parliament.

With the result Recommendations of Wilbur Smith remained in limbo. In 1998 the Government of India gave sanction for Bandra Worli Freeway Sea Link project. This project is nearing completion. The Government of India accorded sanction for further extension of the road from Point skirting and around Raj Bhavan.

We learn from the press that Federation of Environment and Development Organisation has filed a petition on various grounds in the High Court being PIL No. 34 of 2007. During the hearing at the Mumbai High Court Advocate General on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra stated that the Government of Maharashtra was reconsidering the entire matter. The Maharashtra Government reconsidered and gave up a Sea Link upto Nariman Point. This was in the month of March, 2008. This was interalia because at a conference or Urban Experts from England and other countries criticized the Government for ruining sea view and Horizon view.

We further understand that the MSRDC invited tenders for Worli to Haji Ali. It may be pointed out that the said Lea Link ends in the sea near Haji Ali Dargha.

On 14th August, 2008 the MSDC has appointed M/s. OVE Arup & Partners International Ltd. with the following Terms of Reference for Haji Ali to Nariman Point Sea Link calling it phase II B.

Relevant paras of Terms of Reference:

The project:

1. The Western Freeway Sea Link (WFSL) is proposed to be developed in suitable phases. Construction of sea link from Bandra to Worli is in progress, further sea link from Worli to Haji Ali is in bidding stage, further Haji Ali – Nariman Point – Cuffe Parade is envisaged in his project and is termed as "The Western Freeway Sea Link Project (WFSL) Phase-IIB".

2. The possible structure of this study as envisaged presently are as follows:

Alternative: I: WFSL upto Haji Ali + realignment of Sea Link upto Malabar Hill tunnel +Chowpatty to Nariman Point (Cut & Cover tunnel) to Cuffe Parade.

Alternative II: - WFSL upto Haji Ali + Beyond Haji Ali upto Nariman Point by using any other alternative approach other than the above (excluding the option of a direct tunnel between Haji Ali to Nariman Point).

Alternative III: - Any other route as desired by MSRDC time to time based upon discussions with the consultants.

The Consultants will have to study the above possible alternatives or any further modified Combinations based on requirements and feasibility. The combinations may be suitably phased for implementation based on feasibility & traffic requirements.

It is surprising that MSRDC while appointing the Consultant has specifically excluded option of direct tunnel between Haji Ali and Nariman Point or upto Chowpatty or upto Marine Lines whereby at the threshold preventing the Consultant from examining the said proposal.

We the citizens of Malabar Hill Constituency and the surrounding areas support the option of underground tunnel from Haji Ali, as observed, during a public consultation held by the then Hon'ble Minister for Public Works Shri Anil Deshmukh all the people present opposed the Pedder Road Flyover and also the tunnel below the Malabar Hill and supported the option of tunnel from Haji Ali.

I must also point out by excluding the said option of Haji Ali tunnel the Government of Maharashtra and the MSRDC will be left with no other alternative but to have an interchange where the PDP is presently located. In fact MSRDC in its Terms of reference stated that consultants should provide for said inter-change at Nepeasea Road causing huge traffic congestion on Nepeasea Road and Malabar Hill constituency.

It is not understood why MSRDC wants to pursue this devastating course!! It is a accepted fact that MSRDC itself had referred the Malabar Hill Tunnel option to IIT. The IIT by its report dated January 2006, itself rejected the Malabar Hill Tunnel option. Their conclusions were as follows:

Based on the comparisons made between the tunnel option and the full WFSL option, it can be concluded that continuing the sea-link, from Bhulabhai Desai Road to Nariman Point is more attractive than terminating at PD Parkand providing tunnel for through traffic upto Tambe Chowk.

The above conclusions are purely based on traffic parameters. However, the social, environmental, economical and financial considerations need to be evaluated for various alternatives before coming to a financial conclusion. It seems now MSRDC, has rejected the said conclusions by the most reputed reputed institution of the country viz. the IIT.

Furthermore, the recommended Tunnel practically from Priyadarshini Park to Nariman Point is more expensive than the Tunnel from Haji Ali to Tambe Chowk. On the basis of the experience of Delhi Metro, the cost per km is not more than116 crores. The distance between Haji-Ali to Tambe Chowk is not more than three to four Kms.

In the circumstances, we request your honour to look into this matter and direct the MSRDC not to destroy Priyadarshini Park & Sports Complex, the Western Coastline, including Chowpatty from environment Degradation and traffic bottlenecks, congestion and chaos in South Mumbai.

We sincerely hope that your honour will take into consideration the above factual position and give necessary directions to all concerned in the public interest.

Kindly consider this as Most Urgent.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,