Sunday, April 02, 2006

Peddar Road Flyvover - Surely you're joking Mr. Sanghvi.

I always read Mr. Vir Sanghvi's column in the Sunday HT. Besides taking firm stands on issues, the man writes succinctly and normally makes imminent sense. However, in his column today, I can't find myself agreeing with him on the Peddar Road Flyover (PRF). Yes, yes, bear with me for my third post on the PRF (earlier ones are here and here) .

Let's take some of his statements.

1. "If this monstrosity is built, it will completely deface South Bombay, obscure every heritage building and totally alter the city's character".

"Monstrosity" - Is this an aesthetic issue or an infrastructure one ? So am I to assume that flyovers must now comply with aesthetic guidelines and should also look good?

"completely deface South Bombay" - The JJRF was built over Byculla, Pydhonie, Masjid, etc. etc. Were these also defaced? Ditto Dadar flyover, Sion flyover, etc. I doubt a comment on the PRF is possible before first gauging the impact of these flyovers. After all, flyovers are not admired for their architecture. They are built to address serious traffic issues - past, present and future.

"Obscure every heritage building" - Here's an indicative list of buildings from Haji Ali to Chowpatty. I don't know which of these can be classified as a "heritage building" in danger of being obscured. Jindal Mansion, Cadbury House, Vijaylakshmi Mafatlal Centre, Jaslok Hospital, Villa Theresa School, Vama, Hanging Gardens, Parsi Colony, Ratan Tata Institute, Babulnath Temple, Wilson College, Sterling Apts, Vama Shopping Centre and of course Chowpatty.

"and totally alter the city's landscape" - How can a 3km-long flyover change the landscape of a city? Unless Mr. Sanghvi implies that obscuring heritage buildings alters the city's landscapes. Why then does Mr. Sanghvi, earlier on in the same column, support the SC verdict in the Mill Land case. This same redevelopment will "obscure every heritage building" in that area as well. Perhaps South Bombay is a bit different from Parel?

2. "The case against the flyover is a strong one. Apart from the environmental objections, there are very real fears that it will be a waste of public money that will do Bombay no good at all.... The solution is not to build more bridges on these roads, but to use the sea to open up more routes." So the PRF has environmental objections but not the Sea Link? Fishy, fishy, fishy. And I thought the Bandra-Worli Sea Link had been held up in the past because of environmental reasons, impact on fishermen, etc.

I like Mr. Sanghvi's writing and I'm a big fan of his Sunday column - by far the best in Sunday papers. In fact the title of his today's column says it all "Get up, Bombay, Stand up!". But for today, I find his objections to the PRF a bit baseless.

By the way, the same HT's front page informs me that 9 out of 10 Bombayites (yes, Mr. Sanghvi, even I'm not going to call myself a Mumbaikar) support the PRF.