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Vol. XXVI No. 07, July 16-31, 2016

The flyover that became a garden

Steven A Pinto writes: Mumbai’s first garden-under-flyover was recently inaugurated and named the Nanalal D. Mehta Garden. It is located under the Tulpule Flyover on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road.

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The garden is the initiative of the ‘One Matunga’ group, which consists of residents in the area. They came together to protect this stretch from encroachment and misuse.

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Soon after the flyover opened to the public about four years ago, it started turning into a hangout zone for hawkers, gamblers, drug addicts, etc. It was then that the residents of Matunga took over the responsibility of preventing this from happening.

“A few residents informed me about the encroachers and we took it up with the F/North ward (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai), requesting them to barricade the entire stretch,” Nikhil Desai, recalls a Matunga-based activist.

Once the area was barricaded, about 40 people crowd-sourced funds and hired 24×7 private security to look after it for two years. They also get 10-12 BMC sweepers to clean the stretch and ensure that it does not become a dumping ground.

In 2011, they started approaching various government authorities with the idea of developing a small garden in the space and got approval in 2014. After successful petitioning, the BMC began to redevelop the area in June 2015. Today, this is the only encroachment-free flyover in Mumbai.

The garden has been designed to look like the Narmada River. Engineers and architects studied the flow of the river and tried to replicate it on the garden pathway. The 600-metre pathway is blue in colour with a replication of rock formations as found on the banks of River Narmada. A granite block in the garden carries information about the landmarks on the way to the river, such as temples, and the region halfway through the stretch has been designed to look like the Narmada ghat. The garden has 300 lights and 11 rotatable CCTV cameras to ensure safety.

“To get space in such a crowded area is a boon. It’s also fun as I meet my building friends here and we finish our walk together,” Kritida Patel, a resident of the role says. The garden is open from 8 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 9.30 pm.

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