July 23, 2024

Once upon a time there was a plan.

Several senior citizens, who had lived on the Hills for over 50 years remember with great nostalgia the winding roads up and down on both slopes, with verdant trees and chirping birds, bungalows whose verandahs overlooked all these. Unfortunately these disappeared in the name of development and modernisation. Words that are alien to the oldies, but we cannot go back in time! The trees cannot tell tales of yore, nor can today’s homes replace the beauty of the old. 

What can we do for our children and grandchildren? What is still possible? Can we recreate the beauty that was?
What will our legacy be? 

Fortunately there were some in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) who were willing to share the dreams. Some who were willing to support the need to rejuvenate this hilly area of the city. To recreate an atmosphere at peace with nature.

The Municipal Corporation appointed an Urban Planner & Architect, Salil Ranadive to survey the area from Raj Bhavan to Kemps Corner, and bound on the west by L. Jagmohandas Marg and on the east by Walkeshwar Road, going down to Chowpatty Beach, and then submit a detailed project plan for approval. He listened very patiently to the ‘memories’ and made several presentations, along with representatives of MCGM, and in his words ‘It is imperative that this Green Lung be Protected, Conserved and Nurtured.’The area to be branded to note its unique character, as ‘Malabar Hill’.

The thought process adopted was to make it

  • Barrier free – allowing freedom of movement, safety and friendly acceptability.
  • Use of modern materials and technological design.
  • Simple designs to reduce repairs and maintenance.
  • Wholistic development

All elements of the project to maintain feeling of being in an old-world hill-station.

The proposal encompasse

  • Street lights and signages.
  • Pavements and fencing.
  • Traffic Islands.
  • Replantation on the slopes.
  • Provision of Public Amenities like bus stops, drinking water fountains, food plaza, public toilets, police beat chowky.
  • Parks with new gates, natural & safe children’s play areas, proper inside, an amphitheatre, and even a separate area for pets.
  • The four stepped and winding pathways down the eastern slopes to allow walks down to Chowpatty. Pg. 28
  • Waterfall that could be seen from Marine Drive.
  • Viewers Gallery above the old Naaz

Whatever was in the scope of MCGM would be paid for them, and others would need citizens to seek sponsors. 

All these proposals were welcomed by the citizens, and some were executed in record time:

  • Paving of paths & an amphitheatre was built inside Kamala Nehru Park.
  • Pavement and railings from the gardens to Kemps corner were completed.
  • The Honorable Mayor in April 2009 launched the ‘Brand Malabar Hill’

 

Then, like so many good projects for the city, the Senior Officer responsible for sharing this dream of a magnificent plan was transferred and the plan was put to sleep! Now there are rumblings that the Corporation has allocated Rs. 5 crore for rejuvenation of the Hill. No suggestions have been called for from the residents of the area. It is to be hoped that time and tax-payers money will not be wasted on yet another plan.The hope is that this one, which was enthusiastically launched and reported in all the media, will be taken up again.

Let Maharashtra have 3 (three) hill stations – Matheran, Mahableshwar and Malabar Hill. 

By Anita Garware, Chairperson, Indian Heritage Society – Mumbai. Resident of Malabar Hill.