A garden with a flyover over it is a lush green oasis in the concrete jungle of Mumbai
A 660m plot of land, sandwiched between Ruia College and King’s Circle in Mumbai, has become a study of how proactive citizens and city officials can create art in a concrete jungle.
The land under one of the city’s busiest flyovers has been turned into a public park after years of effort by local residents. The 7,200 mÂ² park is a precious oasis between two roadways on either side, a place of respite.
Named after the overview, Nanalal D. Mehta Park was born from the desire of residents to beautify the place. Although meeting with the officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was not always pleasant, with residents even rejecting the civic body’s ideas for space, the end product was a huge success, said Nikhil Desai, a retired engineer from the neighborhood. Indian express. Desai was among the first residents to come up with the idea of ââturning the space into a public park.
The first striking aspect of the park is the blue-hued mosaic walking track. It looks like the bottom of a swimming pool and was designed around the Narmada – from its starting point Amarkantak to where it meets the Arabian Sea at Bharuch. The river is the blue gateway, with landscapes and greenery on the sides symbolizing eight landmarks located along the river. The seats also resemble the steps of a riverside ghat.
The garden is covered by the width of the bridge above, keeping it shaded during the day. When it rains, however, water flows through the thin separation of the flyover.
The area is fenced off by an iron gate, hidden from the naked eye by the dense foliage along the walkway.
Desai said it was completely safe for indoor traffic. However, the noise is deafening because the noise of motors and the sound of horns cannot be cut without noise canceling headphones or earphones.
People stroll through the park to burn calories, while the benches provide a resting place for seniors.
Class XII student Pooja Chedde said she was a regular visitor when she wanted a break from studying. While Chedde has only recently started coming to the park, her mother is a regular and loves the space. It was a regular meeting place for students at Ruia College before the pandemic.
The idea of ââbuilding a public garden came from the inhabitants of the buildings located on either side of the flyover. The bridge had just arrived and the space below was used as a parking lot for taxis. Residents feared it might turn into an open-air urinal, citizen activist Desai said.
A 2013 High Court order banning the use of space under overflights as parking lots has armed citizens. When they first contacted the civic body, they were redirected to the Mumbai Metropolitan Area Development Authority (MMRDA), which owned the land under the flyover it had built.
MMRDA accepted the citizens’ suggestion and invited private actors to submit expressions of interest to execute it. He also asked locals to come up with ideas, but these turned out to be fancy and expensive.
Desai said that someone wanted a basketball court while another wanted a badminton court. The MMRDA had also asked residents to raise half of the money – 1.50 crore rupees – to get the project off the ground.
Fundraising then hit a wall, while the MMRDA ceded the ground to the civic body. Some residents have also approached the local lawmaker, who has promised to implement the plan. But after barely making it in the 2014 election, the promise was forgotten.
Desai then approached the civic body’s additional commissioner, SVR Srinivas. In no time, he had prepared his own plan.
Garden Infrastructure Cell civil engineer Umesh Parvade said community members were angry that the civic body had rejected their previous plan, which was deemed unsustainable. They even tried to stop the work on the garden. But they soon realized that the civic body had built a state-of-the-art park and ultimately appreciated it. The project was completed in 2015 and the park was handed over to the gardens department, Parvade said.
Specially constructed reservoirs at one end of the garden provide water for the plants. There was lighting the entire length of the park through the foliage beds which made the place magical in the evening. These lights no longer work, but late evening walkers are getting enough light from the street lights.
Desai said the idea for the garden had also received compliments from Indian expatriates in the United States and Dubai.
The civic body has now followed the idea with a public park under the flyover of the Dadar TT. But it’s a five section garden because of multiple traffic lights.
While vehicle exhaust fumes are a problem for the overhead garden, the plants act as a green shield, while the pandemic-induced masks block the fumes.