Metro 2B corridor row: We wasted time relying on elected officials, say residents

28 May,2023 07:33 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Dipti Singh

Bandra SV Road, Tata Blocks, Parsi colony, and Varde Marg Residents Association intensify protest to protect Sadhu Vaswani Garden

Bandra residents protest again MMRDA on Saturday. Pic/Aishwarya Deodhar


Intensifying their opposition to the "destruction" of the only green space available to them, and the discreet shifting of Metro 2B corridor's "National College" station, residents of SV Road, Tata Blocks, Parsi colony, and Varde Marg Residents Association organised a protest rally on Saturday evening. Over 130 residents and supporters of the campaign gathered at the Sadhu Vasawani garden, the affected space.

Residents alleged that they wasted crucial time relying on the local MLA Advocate Ashish Shelar of the BJP and Corporator Swapna Mhatre, who only made "empty promises" and "tall claims" of getting the station shifted back to the old location and saving the garden.

Their concern arises from the fact that the Sadhu Vaswani Garden, located on Bandra's SV Road, is set to shrink by approximately 290 sq metres. This reduction in size is "necessary to accommodate the entry and exit points of the Metro 2B corridor's National College station", as clarified by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in their recent response to mid-day.

The residents are disappointed by MMRDA's decision not to relocate the station elsewhere, citing the difficulties and costs associated with such a move. In response to this development, the residents organised a protest rally at Sadhu Vaswani Garden on Saturday at 6 pm. The aim of the rally was to voice their opposition to MMRDA's takeover of a part of the garden for the construction of the Metro station's entry/exit points. They argued that this action will result in the removal of numerous trees, some of which are over a century old and belong to rare species.

The residents have expressed their discontent with the handling of the situation by MMRDA, and accused the authority of discreetly relocating the station without informing the public or even seeking suggestions and objections before shifting the station. In a public statement issued last week, the residents openly criticised Shelar and Mhatre, who, they claimed, had initially promised their complete support to the citizens of Bandra in this matter. The statement read: "At the last meeting held at the Vaswani Garden, he (Shelar) thumped his chest and very emphatically assured the citizens of his constituency at the gathering that their worries were over, as the Metro station will not be constructed outside Tata Blocks, at the very busy junction of SV Road, Linking Road, and Turner Road. In fact, Shelar even thanked the citizens for bringing MMRDA's wrongdoings to his attention. Further, Shelar also approached Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who also assured he would resolve the matter
with the MMRDA."

A Tata blocks resident said, "We actually wasted our time relying on elected representatives. While they have still been assuring us that they are supporting us, they failed to meet us despite seeking an audience numerous times. I think all those were nothing but empty promises. Meanwhile, MMRDA not only discreetly shifted the station, but is now eating up our garden space."

Another resident, Noshir Dubash, who is the treasurer of the Bandra Tata Blocks Welfare Association, said, "The MMRDA officials have misguided us all along. They assure us something and then on ground, they do something else. Till date, they haven't replied to any of our queries in writing. When we went there, an engineer explained the situation and also assured us that the garden will not be affected, but all this was a farce. We believed them and wasted our time." Pashin Katpitia, president, Bandra Tata Blocks Welfare Association, concurred, saying, "All stations on Metro line 1 are at junctions and we can see the state of the traffic and congestion caused. MMRDA will create a mess and walk away. They are also stealing our only green space."

Mhatre, however, said, "We met MMRDA officials and engineers two days ago. We also questioned them on the total garden area to be affected. In a new development, we learnt that the MMRDA is working on the plan and now, only 300 sq feet in the extreme corner of the garden will be used, where a lift will come up. Staircase and elevators will be constructed outside. However, we are yet to get any of this on paper from MMRDA."

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