Citizens directly affected by the proposed Mumbai Metro 3 line are already up in arms against the project because of the potential damage to their locality and environment — but the threat doesn’t end there. The project is also likely to affect the city’s green spaces and parking lots as well.
In addition to the Colaba Woods garden in Cuffe Parade, the city may also lose eight other green spaces, including the Hutatma Chowk lawns that surround the Samyukta Maharashtra memorial, green spaces in Fort, Cuffe Parade and Prabhadevi.
The 32.5km Metro 3 stretches from Colaba to Seepz via Bandra and passes through areas like Nariman Point, Cuffe Parade, Worli and BKC, which are not connected by suburban rail services.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) had earlier demanded temporary possession of most of these plots. However, the corporation is now planning to demand permanent possession. While the MMRC insists it will return parts of the open spaces after the project is over, locals fear the worst and have protested against these plans.
In addition to these open spaces, the MMRC has also demanded two critical parking lots at Eros Cinema in Churchgate as well as one opposite the Bombay high court, adjoining Hutatma Chowk.
All these spaces are included in the MMRC’s plan to acquire around 1.24 hectares of BMC plot, permanently. The MMRC needs these plots primarily for ventilation shafts, to build entry and exits points to the stations and to construct a traction sub-station. The MMRC, however, claimed apart from restoring the gardens, they would also restore the areas acquired by them permanently if they are not used by the public.
For instance, of the total 757 sqm of Hutatma Chowk garden that the corporation plans to acquire, only 202 sqm is likely to be permanently acquired.
The playground near Siddhivinayak temple, measuring 15,246 sqm will be temporarily acquired, and only 500 sqm of it is likely to be permanently acquired.
There are also BMC office buildings like the education office building near Grant Road (east), Nair Dental hospital, the BMC’s Worli hub building, the Marol fire brigade building which are on the MMRC’s permanent acquisition list.
While the proposal on temporary acquisition of 14 plots will be discussed in the BMC’s general body meeting to be held on Thursday. The approval of the improvement committee on the permanent acquisition, however, is yet to be received Assistant municipal commissioner Vishvas Shankarwar said, “We are yet to receive a formal demand by the MMRC on acquiring the plots for Metro 3 permanently.”
MMRC managing director Ashwini Bhide said, “When a government body is involved, there is no question of acquisition. It is just a matter of handing over the land. Minimal parts of the open spaces are permanently needed. When there is new development, even the citizens need to be supportive.”
While talking to one of the residents Parag Udani, who is protesting the taking over of Colaba Woods garden said, “We have asked questions regarding the MMRC’s Metro 3 line and about the integrated plan and how the construction of the Metro will effect the environment and residents. But the MMRC has decided to be quiet on this issue. We are not against development, but we need to be informed about the changes in our locality.”