Why the hurry to sacrifice our parks?

The proposed Nariman Point-Kandivli coastal road has encountered resistance from Versova residents, who contend that the 33.5-km elevated freeway will pass right over their Nana-Nani Park in Seven Bungalows, resulting in the cutting of trees and digging up of jogging tracks and lawns for construction of the stilts (columns). The shrubs that survive, they say, will have to live under the shadow of the eight-lane highway. Senior citizens who use the park as a ‘lung’ told this paper that the prospect of their park being destroyed is giving them sleepless nights.

While one can understand that many groups will cite objections to the Coastal Road for different reasons, some valid and the others not so, it is important that every effort be made to save parks and trees whenever any development project is planned.

Mumbai is a city with a paucity of open, recreational spaces. The few that exist, have seen large-scale abuse, with some being used for protests and gatherings, others at times given out for commercial gain, depriving citizens of the open space.

The nana-nani parks are a welcome addition to Mumbai’s small open spaces. They give senior citizens a chance to relax in a pleasing pocket of their own, amidst the whirl of the city.

Now, spare the nana-nani park in Versova from invasion. Perhaps this will require some brainstorming from the authorities. Yet, greenery should not be so readily sacrificed at the altar of development. Let the authorities first listen and take an active interest in the objections of the citizens who stand to be deprived of this park. Let there be some genuine will to stop the erosion of open spaces. It is not just infrastructure but people who make up a city. A city with a disgruntled populace who feel their concerns are being brushed aside, will be like a tinderbox waiting to explode with anger and frustration.

Save the parks of Mumbai, even as development goes ahead. Do the tough balancing act; this city needs every inch of open space it has.

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