Mumbai’s first garden-under-flyover was finally inaugurated on Monday after the dedicated hard work of many Matunga residents. Named Nanalal D. Mehta Garden, it is located under the Tulpule Flyover on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road.
Residents of Matunga came together to protect this stretch from encroachment and misuse, and thought of the idea of creating a garden here.
Soon after the flyover was made open 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 to prevent 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, a Matunga-based activist told DNA.
Once the area was barricaded, about 40 people crowd-sourced funds and hired 24X7 private security to look after it for two years. They also used to 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 that space and got the final 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 where people can sit. The garden has 300 lights and 11 rotatable CCTV cameras to ensure safety.
“To get a 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 Kapole Niwas told The Times of India. The garden is open from 8 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 9.30 pm.