Bandra residents unite to thwart BMC’s plan of underground parking, are determined to meet the authorities to discuss feasible alternatives
Locals met at Patwardhan Park on Sunday to discuss the issue and made a presentation to explain it to each other. Pic/Shadab Khan
After much discussion on the pros and cons of a public parking lot under a part of Patwardhan Park in Bandra, the residents have agreed to oppose it. On Sunday, around 70 residents of Bandra met to support the ‘No parking under the park movement’, which started with a JVPD park recently. Those against disturbing the park have decided to meet local political representatives and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials to put forth their views.
Last week, the BMC floated a tender to construct an underground parking lot beneath an open plot behind the Appasaheb Patwardhan Park in Bandra West. According to the BMC, there will be a three-storey underground structure to accommodate 288 cars with a robotic system, and as per the plan displayed in the tender notice, there will be two entrance roads and a roof above the garden. The BMC had similar plans for Pushpa Narsee Park in JVPD, but after stiff opposition from the residents, it is considering other options.
Residents at Patwardhan Park on Sunday. Pic/Shadab Khan
On Sunday, Bandra residents gathered on the open plot which is part of the Patwardhan garden, to discuss the issue. A few children were playing ball games. Half of the plot has already been concretised. In one corner, BMC personnel were taking samples for soil testing. Some of the residents made a presentation about the parking lot and the situation of the park for other residents. As per the presentation, the plot under which the parking is being planned has nine trees which are over 50 years old. If the parking lot is created, only one of them will survive.
Underutilised parking lots
“There are many vacant parking lots in the vicinity, including an area for 100 cars in Croma mall adjacent to the park. Besides, there are at least four malls where underground parking facility is available for visitors. But all these plots are underutilised due to multiple reasons. Even the robotic system will take time to take a car outside, and that’s why people refrain from using it. But even then, without doing a study and keeping people unaware of the facts of several parking areas, the BMC is trying to push for the underground parking lot, which will use the entire ground area,” said Zoru Bhathena, an activist, during the presentation.
Sameer D’Monte, an architect and resident of Bandra, said, “The future is electric cars where anyone can book them. Eventually, the number of cars will go down by 80 per cent and there will be no need for car parking. Without thinking of the future and doing any study, destroying an open space is not the solution.”
‘Ample parking available’
Aditi Kane, another resident, said, “After the presentation, it is clear that there is ample parking space available in the area. Most of the residents have drivers and they do not need to park their cars to go shopping. So there is no need to destroy the park. Besides, if the BMC starts a project here, it will indirectly allow them to use every other open space in the city, which is horrific.”
Another resident, Arun Kumar, said that the park must be saved for future generations. “If the authorities are not ready to review their plan, we must fight for it,” he said. Vidyadhar Date, a traffic expert, who was present at the meeting, said the BMC’s plan is disastrous. “On the one hand, the government promotes the Metro to reduce cars, and on the other, it wants to create more and more parking lots by destroying open spaces without any study. It will be of no use.”
“If the city is growing and requires more infrastructure like buildings, rails, parking lots, it must need more open spaces too,” said Bhathena. There is an annual celebration of Durga Pooja at Patwardhan Park. Shankar Maitra, the secretary of Natunpalli Sarbajonin Durgautsab Committee, was also present to oppose the parking lot. “We have been celebrating the festival on the ground since 1973. We were here to collect information on the BMCs plan and are going to oppose it,” said Maitra.