As a mark of protest to reserve the only open space left, residents of Juhu staged a protest at the Juhu beach to oppose the coastal road project and the proposed runway for Juhu airport on Sunday evening. Terming it an act to save the beach, the activists formed a human chain on World Environment day.
Two important projects are currently in process on one of the biggest beaches of Mumbai. Spanning across 500 meters, the coastal road project aims to make a ‘green zone’ along the coastline of the beach. Also, Juhu airport, which currently sees only helicopters and small aircraft, plans to accommodate larger planes if the airport and runway expansion plan gets the go-ahead.
However activists say these ‘developments’ will bring an end to the beauty that the Juhu beach is. “If the project gets a go-ahead, Juhu beach will obviously become history. It is one of the largest open spaces we have for recreation and other activities. By making such a commercial use out of it, activities of commoners, beach-visitors and others who run stalls at the beach will be restricted,” said activist Godfrey Pimenta.
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Fearing what future may hold if the Juhu beach gets swept away, Ganesh Thevar, owner of a dosa stall on the beach said, “Where will we go if the runway extends on the beach? I fear the removal of my stall, which has been here for years. As a mark of objection, I joined the other activists so that I can save my job.”
More than 100 people from different residents’ associations and activists from non-governmental organisations had gathered at the beach to express their disappointment over the authorities’ plan to “usurp” the land. They formed a human chain for about 30 to 45 minutes and protested against the construction of any project related to this.
“The beach remains one of the many heritages of Juhu for age-old residents of Juhu. Not just that, it is also one of the important tourist spots,” said Ivan Creado, a Juhu resident.
However, airport authorities have claimed this to be an extension of services for Juhu residents. K Bimal, Juhu airport director said, “The extension of the runway is in no way going to affect the activities of people. In fact, the project is aimed at increasing the delight of locals and beautifying the beach. We will make sure the development will further add to the service of the beach to locals.”