The municipality is working on a plan to turn the city’s western coastline into a series of well-maintained sandy beachfronts.
To start with, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants to develop the Versova and Madh-Marve beaches along the lines of the beautified Juhu beach – making aesthetic improvements to the area while maintaining its ecological balance.
The architect behind the Juhu beautification project, P K Das, is working on the plan for Versova and Madh-Marve. “The brief for these two beaches is similar to what we did at Juhu. We want to retain the open space and involve local residents in the project,” said Das.
The plan entails enriching of the beaches, clearing of slums in the area, beautification of access roads, with gardens and provisions for public functions like Ganpati immersions. Before 2006, when it was cleaned up, 40 per cent of the open space at Juhu beach was encroached on. Today, it is a walker’s delight, and is considered one of the best-maintained seafronts in the city.
“The idea is to use the beach as a public space. We want to leave it as open as possible, instead of clogging the beach with new structures. We want people to start connecting with beaches,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.
The 2.5-km Versova beach currently has numerous slums in the vicinity. In his survey of the western waterfront from Colaba to Madh-Marve, Das found about 400 pre-1980 houses that will need to be relocated with minimal disruption. Madh-Marve is a relatively unexplored beach. “Its sandy character will be maintained, the rest of the elements will be planned around it,” he said.
By integrating all the beaches along our western coastline, Mumbai will have a distinct identity as a city surrounded by water,” said Mhaiskar, adding that the budget for the project will be worked out after the plan is finalised.
The BMC is also planning facelifts for beachfronts at Bandra Bandstand and Carter Road, which have suffered sunk tiles and erosion of retaining walls.
“We will eventually return to these waterfronts with a view to maintain and preserve,” said Mhaiskar.