Stalltamount Road

Feb 15, 2012, 10:49 IST | Hemal Ashar

Altamount Road residents and committee frustrated with no movement on Revitalization project proposed nearly six years ago, do not know when clearances would come

Altamount Road residents and committee frustrated with no movement on Revitalization project proposed nearly six years ago, do not know when clearances would come

Facelift: What the road looks like and how they wanted it to look, with
yellow lines clearly marked and systematic traffic management

The Altamount Road Area Citizens Committee (ARACC), residents from Mumbai's swish South Mumbai strip, also colloquially dubbed as Millionaire's Row are at their wits end. Nearly six years ago, residents under the ARACC umbrella, had presented civic authorities with a presentation for a beautification project for the road called the, 'Revitalization of Altamount Road' or precinct as they call it. What this project envisaged was the beautification and subsequent upkeep of the area, with an accent on organised parking, freeing congested roads and giving a facelift to corners and junctions. Overall, it was an upgradation of the area, where the 1.2 km road (by the way, it has been more in the news since Mukesh Ambani moved into his Antilia residence), would be cleared of traffic bottlenecks, have better parking, clearer signage at corners and also be more aesthetic, with several small gardens planned at various corners.   

Pocket pretty: The space near Saahil Apts. as it looks and how it could
be converted to more aesthetic corner

The ARACC committee and residents had a Ground Penetration Radar survey done in 2006, to check the area's feasibility. Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) uses radar pulses to image the subsurface. GPR can be used in rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements and structures. It can detect objects, changes in material, and voids and cracks.

Say residents, "The architect for the project was Ratan Batliboi who had a vision for the road, the onus of getting all permissions from different arms of the authorities the BMC, traffic police etc was on the committee."

New view: By George, that's Washington. How the Washington House
corner would look spruced up with a little garden in front

Most vitally, though, the Revitalization was at absolutely no cost to authorities. All the funds were the responsibility of Altamount Road residents which included the ARACC itself, they were supposed to tap corporates and private individuals. Says Capt. Ashok Batra chairman of the ARACC, "It was an initiative in which authorities did not have to put in a penny." The Revitalization plan file started going to various departments for clearances, but residents say a depressingly familiar scenario of red tape and rigmarole followed. The file bounced from one department to the other. Six years have elapsed but a maze-like system has resulted in delays and clearances are still awaited. The ARACC and residents frustration though has peaked now and patience has finally worn thin. 

How green is my valley: The site has potential with some eye catching

The ARACC claims they have followed the file from one department to another, only to be totally frustrated at the end of it all. Gautam Watsa, secretary, ARACC, said, "We have followed the file from table to table, there is not a single bureaucrat who has not congratulated us on the project. But things have stalled at one juncture or the other for various reasons." The ARACC rues the fact that because the project has gone into cold storage, "The committee has lost credibility with residents. We are constantly asked what happened to the project, which was launched with so much optimism and enthusiasm, but we can only say it has been stalled though we have tried our best," added Watsa.  Approximately Rs 4.5 to Rs 5 crore had been earmarked for the beautification at inception, but with six years of inaction costs may have doubled. Project architect Ratan Batliboi said, "This road is facing a number of problems with reference to parking, water and other issues. What we did was to find urban, technical solutions to these problems besides of course, beautification. The residents have been moving the BMC for various permissions but the issue keeps bouncing. I think there were some funds from the MP and MLA fund too, earmarked." Batliboi said that the plan was divided into several phases, "It was important that people see the cosmetic changes first, so that they see tangible progress and success. It has been silence since the past 1.5 years, I have not heard anything about it since more than a year," ended Batliboi, who has been living on Altamount Road for 55 years now.    

Green signal: Mangal Prabhat Lodha says clearances are just three
months away

Mangal Prabhat Lodha, MLA, Malabar Hill said confidently that all clearances would come, "I had committed Rs 10 lakh from my funds for this project. I know it has been stalled but the project will start in three months, final clearances will be through."

Milind Deora, MP, South Mumbai said, "I do not remember exactly how much money I had earmarked for the project. I think it was Rs 5 lakh, though I am unsure. So much time has elapsed since then, that I do not know what worth those funds would have now." Milind added, "I had promised the Association (by which he meant the Committee) a small sum just to get them started. Yet, nobody got back to me and I have been taken aback at this. There has been no follow through and their speed has been discouraging. They (those behind the project) have been dragging their feet and need to get their act together," finished Milind.

Seeing is believing: Bollard lighting had been envisaged for enhanced

With finger pointing and the project currently comatose, it is obvious that Altamount Road can do nothing but wait. The point though is: for how much longer? That is a million dollar question dogging Millionaire's Row.

Letters fly back 'n' forth
Excerpts from the letter read:
A proposed plan for Revitalization of Altamount Road was submitted to the 'D' ward and the previous Additional Commissioner, Mr. Rajeev approved the same at the meeting held on 22/12/09 as can be seen from the above referred letter.

When are they going to get the ball rolling? Milind Deora says
follow up has been virtually non-existent

We waited for the longest time for the NOC from the Mumbai Traffic Police, which has now been granted and the original sent to you (copy enclosed). We have been to the MCGM Traffic Department several times and have met Mr. Mahajan, Asst. Engineer and were informed that he has responded to the referred letter.

Our request has been delayed under one pretext or another even though Add. Municipal Commissioner at the presentation had orally conveyed to us that MCGM has no objection to allow our Association to do the Phase I subject to that the same being done from the funds raised by ARACC.

Going under: Ground Penetration Radar Survey was done in October 2006

We now look forward to getting all the clearances and support from you and your departments to enable us to carry out the 1st phase of our plan as quickly as possible.

The letter is signed by G Watsa, on ARACC's behalf.    

P Masurkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner D Ward said, "I cannot say when  clearances would come as it  is a decision to be made at the Additional Commissioner level.
After all, this is a policy matter." 

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