mid-day editorial: Mumbaikars have first right on the city

At a time when more and more open, green spaces in the city are being swallowed up in the name of ‘development’, Sunday morning saw a large group of south Mumbai residents gather to protest a similar threat to Malabar Hill’s Kamala Nehru Park, where at least 70 trees face the axe for the proposal to convert Chiranji Loyalka Marg or the Siri Road Walkway into a motorable road.

Locals said the plan would deprive the prime area of its green cover and also affect the amphitheatre and children’s playground at Kamala Nehru Park.

This has become a familiar pattern — every time a new project is announced, it leads to a tug of war between the residents and authorities. In fact, this development versus environment debate is part of the urbanscape all across the world. Yet, so many cities — especially in the West — have been able to strike that perfect balance and push for development without sacrificing heritage or environment.

Here, citizens have to exercise constant vigilance to preserve the few open spaces and sparse green cover that we have. It is a thankless, frustrating and often, time-consuming process. One fails to understand why people are repeatedly forced to fight for what is rightfully theirs.

To compound matters, there is little or no information to be had; locals learn about proposed projects or infrastructure through reports in the media. Or, one person may hear about a plan and then mobilise people to protest. Let citizens at least be informed about proposed projects by local leaders. The people must be factored in from the beginning.

Authorities need to balance environment and development. Earlier, too, people have seen that trees that have been cut for ‘development’ are not re-planted as promised. It is little wonder then, that people look on all such proposals with a hefty dose of cynicism.

Let there be more transparency and clarity for locals when such initiatives are announced. Only this will build a sense of unity amongst the people and politicians.

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2 Comments

  • R Dumasia08-Dec-2015

    ding to earlier note maybe Mid-day itself should create an example by ordering all its people (top rung to bottom) to shed their personal vehicles and use only public transport. Would you do it please? After all if you don't want roads and flyovers then one must plan to reduce traffic and Mid-day should set and example!! Or maybe go the Delhi way. Someone out there had political guts to take a bold decisive step!

  • R Dumasia08-Dec-2015

    This is good to hear. Now let us look at other side. First the Peddar road flyover now this, tomorrow maybe something else. all which affects rich and famous. has anyone one (including Mid-day) ever taken up issues of similar nature for suburbs? at east I have not heard of any. Lot of flyovers and metro actually put privacy at risk - Milan subway, Metro at D N nagar, Flyover at sion, JJ hospital.maybe persons who oppose projects should give up their cars as an example. Would they?

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