Dream? Not yet
Apart from the inconvenience, the Metro work is decimating the character of localities that might not recover from this onslaught
The first signs of a warning came from a school friend whose home faced the sprawling and well manicured Johnson & Johnson lawns and the adjacent public garden. Until then, this section of Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg was arguably Mulund's most picturesque (and coveted) stretch for the tagline: Home with a view. We would boast of it as being our very own Marine Drive promenade, minus the waterfront, but where the green cover and hills in the background made for a picture-postcard frame.
"Fiona, what we were dreading about has begun - my view has been ruined! The drilling and barricading of the road is well and truly underway," she rued; a tinge of sadness lined her voice. The friend was referring to the commencement of work on Metro 4 - the 'Dreamline' as it's being referred to, that stretches all the way from Wadala to Thane. This was a couple of months ago. We hadn't been privy to this slow death as our daily route didn't include the stretch. Eventually, we did encounter this eyesore as it gradually took over the road across the length of LBS Marg that runs through Mulund. The entire line of green that acted as a divider was gone.
Instead, half the road on either side of the divide has been taken over by work for the elevated corridor. Traffic snarls have increased and there is no such thing as walking space for pedestrians.
One must mention here that Mulund is one of the better planned suburbs along the central suburbs with its grid-like connectivity; we would always pride ourselves and boast about its tree-lined, smooth roads, footpaths and clean air to breathe thanks to its high green cover, especially with friends from SoBo and the western suburbs. With one stroke, all of this seems to be under severe threat.
Just as we gather our thoughts about having to deal with this long-term mess-up, another message plastered across the barricades screams back at us: 'Inconvenience today for a better tomorrow.' Really? 'But, when will this tomorrow come, and at what cost?' we asked ourselves as we waited in an autorickshaw for the signal to turn green. The wait was unusually long. Paan stains had already laced these boards; filth and muck had begun to collect around these sections, and there was no trace of the green that always graced our view. We could not see it, of course.
Mulund is well, just one example of a locality that is facing the brunt of the ongoing Metro projects that crisscrosses the length and breadth of the city. A month ago, when we walked down through the corners and contours of Girgaum for our annual pilgrimage to Lokmanya Tilak's Ganeshotsav at Keshavji Nailk chawl, our heart went out to the residents of the vicinity. The intolerable noise levels and intrusion had to be seen to be believed.
The rustic, quaint neighbourhood, one of the oldest parts of Bombay, with its historic origins, dare I say, will never be the same again. Likewise, with Dr DN Road - the heritage mile, the pride of Fort - we are not sure how long will those sobriquets hold. We are already aware how places of worship like the Parsi fire temples and Aarey Colony will get affected by it. The list is endless. The damage, beyond evaluation. In the name of 'development', 'progress' and other smartly-coined terms, this mass project is raising its ugly head at a huge price that the city and its citizens are having to pay. With no back-up plan to reduce the inconveniences to citizens, save the city's threatened green cover or relate to public sentiment, only time will tell if these taglines meant what they relayed.
mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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