Mumbai: Siri walkway to stay that way

Activists rejoice after proposal to turn walkway into road gets rejected in BMC; chairman of Improvement Committee says he will bring up the proposal once again

Adding the happy into new year, quite literally, the proposal to convert the Siri Road walkway in Malabar Hill, into a motorable road was shot down yesterday in the BMC. It is a small but significant victory for activists who had been fighting against the proposed conversion. But the fight is not over yet, as the chairman of the BMC’s Improvement Committee plans on presenting the proposal once again.

The Siri Road Walkway in Malabar Hill. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The Siri Road Walkway in Malabar Hill. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Sanjay Shirke, an activist who has been leading the fight, said, “The truth has won, not the power of money. It feels good. For us, the new year has come early and there is celebration all around.”

When told that this is a happy respite, not the end of the fight, Shirke stated defiantly, “We will continue to fight. I will sit on the tree if they get the axes to chop them down.”

Prakash Munshi, a Malabar Hill resident, was more measured in his response. Munshi said, “Justice has been done to the citizens, as well as the environment. Our fight will continue to save this tree cover.”

‘Not a personal agenda’
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) treasurer Shaina NC said, “It was not about one tree or seven trees or even 70 trees being cut, but the overall picture of maintaining our green cover. As part of ‘I Love Mumbai’, this is my effort to keep our green spaces constant.”

When asked about whether it was tricky going against the party line, by opposing the conversion of Siri Road since BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha is for the conversion, Shaina said, “Yes, it is in a way, but this is not a personal agenda. It is for the citizens of Mumbai.”

Indrani Malkani, activist, said she was, “Delighted that all political parties came together for a common cause to reject the proposal. The Shiv Sena too has shown that their words translate into action, they always say that they care for the city and they have shown it today.”

However, Malkani stressed that, “This is not an individual’s or solely Malabar Hill’s crusade, but one that involves all of Mumbai and Maharashtra too.”

The fight for the land is not over yet. It is going to be a long haul ahead if one goes by the words of Prakash Gangadhare, chairman, BMC Improvement Committee. He said, “There is a lot of politics amongst corporators. Progress comes first. It takes 1.5 hours to get up to Malabar Hill because of the traffic near Teen Batti. This new proposed road will reduce the time to three minutes from Babulnath to Malabar Hill. We will bring up the proposal again.”

— Inputs by Maleeva Rebello

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