Mumbai: Cops trip up Coastal Road protest
Locals restrained from walking to Nepean Sea Road; disperse at start point
It was a Sunday with a difference, as a clutch of SoBo protestors spent their morning at the Tata Garden at Breach Candy. The locals, most of them from Breach Candy as well as Malabar Hill, were to hold a peaceful protest march against the ostensible lack of transparency and answers on the Coastal Road.
Susie Shah from Malabar Hill, though, claimed, "The police stopped our march at the starting point which was Tata Garden. We had permissions but were restrained." The protestors were from different organisations like 'Save our Shores' and 'Save the Coast, Develop Responsibly'. Some were locals who are not part of a formal group, but were concerned about the ecological impact of the development of the Coastal Road.
Said Shah, "We want answers to questions like: How will the Coastal Road decongest Mumbai?" Shah pointed to everyday bottlenecks at St Stephens Church, Kemps Corner. "With the Coastal Road, this is sure to get worse. How do we plan to tackle this?" Most importantly Shah claimed, "People are asking why we need to reclaim land, at least 200 acres for the road? We are being told that a large part of the land will be for open spaces like parks and cycling tracks.
Will the Coastal Road authorities be able to ensure that there will be no slum encroachment on this open space?" Shah said echoing other protestors, that they were not against development or the Coastal Road, "but we need to be heard and most importantly, need answers."
Gearing up for more
Locals are upping the ante when it comes to Coastal Road protests. On March 5, late at night, locals gathered at Scandal Point, which is next to Tata Garden and asked the contractor to stop work, citing that he did not have certain permissions. Shah claimed that Sunday's restraining action by the police will not deter them, and in fact, spur them on for more protests.
MLA protests, too
Malabar Hill MLA Mangalprabhat Lodha also wanted to participate in the silent protest march and did so by sitting on the road. While he claimed he was not opposing the Coastal Road completely, he said that he was in support of the residents. He said, "The residents don't know details about the project and I support their demand of having complete knowledge. This was the reason why I also participated. Locals deserve to know about the project and how it will affect their neighbourhood and BMC should provide this information."
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