Citizen groups in Bandra have learnt their lesson the hard way. As they were criticised for being late in opposing the elevated the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro route, this time around, they want their voices to be heard right at the beginning.
The locals are demanding a greater say in the extension routes of the Bandra-Worli sea link up to Versova even as the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is still conducting feasibility studies on three proposed routes.
The citizens fear that the extension might damage the two promenades — Bandstand and Carter Road — in Bandra, in addition to the probable damage the extension routes may cause to the ecology along the promenades.
The Hindustan Times had, in its September 29 edition, reported how locals in Bandra and Juhu were up in arms against the proposed routes for the extension, fearing damage to mangroves and the two prominent promenades at Bandra.
Bandra activist Vidya Vaidya, who met MSRDC officials last week, said, “It’s imperative that officials take into consideration what locals have to say about projects affecting their neighbourhood. Increased public participation will ensure that the project has a smooth sailing.”
According to environmentalist Darryl D’Monte, chairman of the Bandra West Residents Associations (BWRA), public participation in such a colossal project is a must. “It goes without saying that the MSRDC needs to consult citizens about such projects, especially because it has the potential of changing the neighbourhood for the worse.”
Activists like D’Monte have opposed one of the three proposed routes – a road along the coastline. “Such a proposal will be disastrous as it looks at building a link along the existing road, over the mangroves. We will oppose such a proposal tooth and nail,” he added.
MSRDC officials, however, said that it was too early to comment or oppose any of the proposals, since they weren’t finalised. But, they did concede to the demand for greater pubic participation. “We will hold a public hearing before we finalise the route. Hence, citizens will have all the space to express their rejection or approval of the project and even come in with their suggestions,” said NS Umate, chief engineer, who is in-charge of the project.