In its recently released Development Control Regulations (DCR), the BMC has proposed an ambitious reclamation plan in posh Cuffe Parade — to create a 300-acre park along the lines of New York’s Central Park, which will include a garden, a playground and a play area for children. The move, however, has not gone down well with experts and activists, who have pointed to the city’s increasing need to create more recreational spaces towards the north of the city.
According to the presentation made by civic chief Ajoy Mehta and IAS official Ramanath Jha, land will be reclaimed behind the Backbay Reclamation with Navy Nagar on the south. Mehta said, “There is already a breakwater and we thought that the notch naturally lends itself to be made into a garden. The area will be purely green, with no construction permitted.” A breakwater is constructed to prevent sea waves from entering the city.
Activists have criticised this move, saying it will cater only to some people, without serving the interests of the larger public. Besides, the area also has many open spaces like the Colaba woods and the CPRA Greens. A huge garden in one of the most posh localities would also mean an increase in property prices in an already expensive-enclave, experts said.
Rishi Aggarwal, a city-based environmental activist, said, “It is a bad decision to reclaim land as the garden will hardly cater to any people. There is population growth towards the north of the city and the BMC must focus on provisions there.”
The Cuffe Parade Residents Association also accused BMC of creating lopsided plans instead of focusing on maintaining the existing open spaces. “Reclamation under the guise of green space is only going to lead to corruption and slum encroachment,” said Mohit Chaturvedi, joint secretary, CPRA.