The citizens are set to have a greater say in the ambitious coastal road project as BMC is willing to make changes to the plan on the basis of Mumbaiites’ suggestions and objections.
Speaking at HT’s roundtable discussion on the coastal road project, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta said the Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is ready to take on board suggestions and objections to the project, although the deadline has already passed.
An HT initiative to increase citizen participation in the coastal road project, the roundtable discussion on Monday was attended by Ashok Datar, transport activist and convener of Mumbai Transport Forum (MTF); Shishir Joshi, CEO of Mumbai First; Darryl D’monte, former journalist; Shweta Wagh and Hussain Indorewala of K Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA); along with the civic chief.
Mehta said the civic body will try and reach out to citizens with “greater gusto”, and that the citizens need not be “experts” for making suggestions to the plan.
The panel of experts at Hindustan Times’ Roundtable on the Coastal Road. (Vidya Subramanian/HT photo)
“The civic body is ready for alternatives, mitigations or corrections on coastal road if it could have better suggestions. Even if the official deadline of suggestions and objections has ended, public can approach us and give their opinion based on any study,” said the civic chief.
The move will lead to greater public participation in the project, resulting in the best possible options being cleared for the 33-km coastal road. The project has faced opposition from citizens and experts on several issues, such as land reclamation, environmental damage and traffic bottlenecks.
Mehta said the BMC does not want cosmetic changes, which they regret later. “All the objections will be checked minutely so that only the best is reserved for the project. Every step taken by the BMC and all related documents will be made public,” said Mehta.
The experts and urban researchers at the roundtable discussion suggested there should be more participation of citizens in the project through ward-level meetings and public consultations.
Claiming the public is poorly informed about the coastal road project, Datar said: “Lot of confusion over feasibility of coastal road exists because there is hardly any public dialogue or hearing over it. There needs to be more interactive sessions between officials and citizens.”
D’monte said since few people are informed about the project, it has created a trust deficit. “The civic body should hold public meetings at ward levels,” he said.
As a take away from the discussion, Mumbai First, an initiative of private businesses that is partnering with the state government to transform the city, will hold dialogues and discussions on the project to bridge the gap between citizen groups and the administration.