It was shocking to spot a BMC Notice calling for tenders to construct an underground parking lot below Patwardhan Park!
Anyone who lives in Bandra knows the traffic chaos on Linking Road; but, will underground parking below Patwardhan Park ever solve the real problems? Will the issue of illegal hawkers get resolved? Will double parking & parking in no-parking zones stop? Will illegal conversion of residential flats into commercial use stop? Will illegal blockage of road-side parking by buildings with enormous gates stop? Will converting a natural garden into a RCC parking lot ever solve these issues?
Flawed assumption that there is not enough parking space available on Linking Road
The plan to construct an underground parking lot below Patwardhan Park is based on the flawed assumption that there is not enough parking space available on Linking Road.
How many citizens are aware that no building can come up without having provision for parking space! How many citizens are aware that no shop/mall/restaurant can get a license to operate without having available parking space! So, how are all these shops/restaurants/malls on Linking Road operating without parking?
We inspected 6 buildings adjoining/near Patwardhan Park. What we found was shocking!
1) Rang Mandir Auditorium– This is a BMC Auditorium. It has over 50 car parking spaces available, which can easily be used when no show is on; but BMC themselves don’t allow public to park here!
2) Crystal/Taste of Punjab Mall– Entire Underground Parking level is shut!
3) Croma Mall– Over 100 car parking spaces are available, but reserved only for the restaurants in the mall!
4) KFC Mall– Entire Underground Parking floor is shut!
5) Starbucks Mall– Entire Underground Parking floor is shut!
6) NM Medical Centre Building– Entire Underground Parking floor is shut!
There were over 300 car parking spaces available in just these 6 buildings. If people are not allowed to park in available spaces, where else will they park but on the road!
Should we even think of converting a natural Garden into a RCC parking lot because available sanctioned parking is kept locked!
If malls are permitted to operate by showing parking space as available, can they later shut these parking facilities? Should not BMC be taking action against such illegal shutting of parking space, rather than planning to rip up a garden for fake reasons!?
How many of us know that Shoppers Stop/Suburbia, Linking Road, has 100 public parking spaces available!
How many of us know that a 4 storied public parking lot is available on Hill Road (inside the gigantic Trios building)!
Who will believe that these buildings contain 'public parking' spaces! The line of badly-parked cars outside just these two buildings certainly hides this fact! Oh! and, does anyone know that these 'public parking' spaces are mostly lying empty!
Now, when existing 'public parking spaces' in Bandra are not being fully used, how can 'public parking' below Patwardhan Park magically solve Bandra's traffic problems!?
Now lets look at the Patwardhan Park underground parking plan!
1) The parking is not going to be truly 'underground'. The RCC parking structure is going to occupy over 50% of the existing garden area and is going to stick 2.2 metres (7 feet) above the ground.
In simple words, if you stand on the periphery / outer track of Patwardhan Park, you wont be able to see the other side of the park, because there will be a 7 foot RCC wall right in front of you! How can this ever be an 'improvement' to a garden!?
2) The RCC roof of the parking lot will be converted into a terrace type garden. There is talk to make it into a Jio-type garden (Jio Gardens is at BKC), but then Jio Garden is just fake/synthetic grass. Do we want Patwardhan park to become into a synthetic garden?
3) Look around us, where is open mud/earth available anywhere in Bandra? If we cement up every Sq inch of open area, where are we heading? How will rain water soak into the earth? How will the natural earth get sunlight/water/air? If the natural earth gets cemented and dies, how will it nourish the trees & plants?
Drive on CD/Khar-Danda Road and see how the magnificent rain trees have dropped dead, simply because these trees no longer have a sq inch of natural mud. The road is cement, the pavement is cement, the adjoining building compound is cement. If there is no space for air/water/sunlight to enter mother-earth, how will it look after the trees or us?
Where will rain water go if it cant enter the mud/earth? Into the sea via our drains! Is this what we want?
4) The plan is not to simply have car parking. A shopping & restaurant plaza is also planned in Phase-2!
The garden-island on the road opp Bandra Book Centre/Burger King and the adjoining unused road (between the garden & the linking road stalls) is planned to be converted into an 8,200 Sq Feet over ground shopping plaza with restaurants!
The plan to 'decongest' Linking Road is actually a plan to take over Linking Road & add nearly 200 shops! How will Linking Road ever get decongested with such plans?
5) The existing hawkers on Linking Road are planned to be relocated into a 27,000 Sq Feet underground shopping centre below the overground plaza!
The question here is- when the BMC haven’t been able to remove the existing hawkers for decades, in what world do they live in, where they believe these hawkers will relocate underground!
And, let us assume these hawkers are honorable people and agree to shift underground….., how will BMC prevent new hawkers from appearing on Linking Road?
Have we so quickly forgotten that the KFC Mall, the Croma Mall & the Crystal Mall on 33rd Road were all created by rehabilitating the then road-side hawkers….., just to make space for more hawkers!
Now that we know all the flaws in the plan, lets think of ways to solve the current Linking Road traffic nuisance
a) Cant we make 33rd Road one-way from Linking Road upto 17th Road. This will solve so many traffic related issues (The traffic on this road is chaotic at any time of the day or night)
b) Cant we make 24th Road one way from Khar Telephone Exchange atleast upto 30th Road! The traffic on this road is simply crazy. Making it one-way will solve so many traffic related problems.
These two simple steps will solve half our traffic related issues!
The other half can be solved by towing away double parked cars, clamping illegally parked cars and stopping buildings from gobbling up the available road-side parking with their illegal gates (only 2 normal sized gates are permitted for entry/exit at any building)!
Without doing anything to solve the existing traffic related problems, how will building an underground parking lot below Patwardhan Park solve anything?
If the plan to build to build a car park below Patwardhan Park does proceed, it will just be a monument to showcase the complete failure of Law & Order on Linking Road!……. Should a Garden ever be dug up for such reasons!
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Friends; lets demand that our authorities first maintain basic law & order on Linking Road. Lets Save Patwardhan Park from being needlessly destroyed!