Residents of Nariman Point have taken up an initiative to revive the second phase of the Marine Drive Promenade beautification project with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and support of local BJP corporator, Harshita Narwekar. Taking cognisance of the citizens’ concerns over maintenance of the promenade, civic chief Ajoy Mehta is planning to hold a discussion of the proposed changes in the next couple of weeks, along with architect Ratan Batliboi who had helped in designing the first phase.
In October last year, members of Nariman Point Churchgate Citizens Welfare Trust (NPCCWT) had conducted a meeting with civic officials to discuss the suggested changes. Residents of the area, with help of Batliboi, had given a presentation to civic officials that included a viewing gallery near the NCPA theatre among other suggestions.
However, owing to the civic elections that were to take place a few months later, senior civic officials did not consider any of the suggestions. Last week, Narwekar met Mehta and highlighted the urgent need of implementing some of the suggestions by the local residents.
“Among other measures, there is a dire need to construct an additional public toilet near Marine Drive. A lot of people frequent the area and sanitation facilities are much required. The commissioner has agreed to take up the issue and soon, we will set up a meeting where even residents will be able to voice their concerns,” said Narwekar.
Residents pointed out that apart from aesthetic measures like building a viewing gallery, repair work is also needed in some parts of the promenade that have been damaged since the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority completed the construction of the promenade in 2008.
Stating that it took the residents 17 years to convince the state government to take up the first phase of refurbishment of Marine Drive, Swarn Kohli, the president of NPCCWT, said: “The flooring and the pavement of the promenade has been damaged at a few places and needs to be levelled and re-done, along with the repair and restoration of Parsi Gate, on priority basis. We also need another toilet apart from the repair work of the public toilet that was constructed near the NCPA, which does not have adequate water connection.”
The residents have also proposed restoration of the Asha Seth Memorial bandstand near Walkeshwar and Babulnath junction.
“Once the bandstand is restored, we can have bands playing there once again on Sundays and the area can be used for entertainment. We have also identified two sunset points at either ends of the promenade,” said Kohli.
Another resident and trustee of NPCCWT, Atul Kumar, said: “The work should be taken up before the promenade falls into a state of complete disrepair. However, the BMC should also ensure that all measures are compliant with the heritage norms so that it doesn’t endanger the UNESCO nomination.”
While Mehta confirmed that he was planning to take up the issue, he said the civic body will ensure that none of the changes will affect the view of the sea. “We want to have a discussion with the architect to understand the suggestions and we will implement those which enhance the beauty and the heritage look of Marine Drive after consulting the heritage committee. We, however, will not do anything that spoils the huge spectacle of the sea,” he said.