Nature lovers protest Maharashtra Nature Park 'revamp'

Observer Research Foundation says project has been completely misunderstood

Nature lovers staged a demonstration at the Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP) on Saturday morning, to protest the proposal put forth by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) to ‘redevelop’ the park. As per reports, an MoU has already been signed.

Plan of the project at the protest
Plan of the project at the protest

According to the proposal, a part of the park’s 10-acre land will be used to accommodate a bridge connecting Bandra-Kurla Complex and the Park. It will also include a walking track promenade, cycling track, reservoir, day care centre, children’s play area, food court and toilet blocks.

Rishi Agarwal, researcher at Observer Research Foundation, which is in charge of the project, said, “Wrong terminologies are being used to describe our plans. The proposal is not to re-develop it but to improve the park’s conditions. While doing so, natural elements such as nature trails, forests and so on, will not be moved. The main building of the park is not in good condition, so we shall improve that as well. The car park, which people assume will be constructed, is not true. It will be constructed across the road, to connect Bandra to Sion. The day-care centre plan was scrapped two to three months ago, as we realised it’s not feasible,” he elaborated.

Nature lovers at the protest on Saturday
Nature lovers at the protest on Saturday

The park, constructed on a dump yard, houses about 18,000 trees of 280 different species, 135 species of birds, 85 species of butterflies, 30 species of spiders, over 30 species of reptiles and amphibians. Anand Pendharkar, president of SPROUTS, said, “Unnatural activities of any kind should not be allowed here. The MoU should be cancelled as legal process
wasn’t followed.”

Avinash Kubal, deputy director of the MNP said, “The park should be left natural and bio-diversified as it is”. Meanwhile, Shanta Chatterjee, World Wildlife Foundation coordinator, said, “I am glad to see people talking positively about the park, that once was a dumping yard.” And Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz foundation, said, “Living in Mumbai, you don’t have much access to places like these. My objective is that the conservation of the park’s biodiversity should not be negotiable.”

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