TATA garden has and always will hold a special place in my heart.
For all those citizens of Mumbai who are not aware, more than 140 trees have been cut at TATA garden in view of the impending coastal road project. TATA garden is a park situated at Breach Candy, South Mumbai. It was unique, lush, filled with flora and fauna with the most breathtaking beautiful bougainvillaea.
In the hustle-bustle of the great Metropolis, it was one of the most serene places you could visit. It was laden with beautiful, tall trees and a wide variety of the most spectacular plants. You could see people from all walks of life—old, young, teenagers and toddlers.
From top industrialists and lawyers to the homemaker, from the gardener to the school child, everyone enjoyed their leisurely time spent at this quaint and serene garden. Ever since I can remember, this garden has been home to several stray dogs, cats, squirrels, butterflies and various beautiful birds.
In 2019, a few weeks after I had undergone knee surgery, I heard about the fact that my beloved TATA garden was going to lose trees and I knew where I had to be. Despite the fact that I had limited mobility, I walked to TATA garden and brought my mum along. We tied ribbons on the trees as an act of solidarity and clicked a few pictures, all while silently protesting.
Fortunately, there was a stay order issued by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court and the garden was untouched.
TATA garden and the beautiful ecosystem it offers is very special to me and has given me some beautiful life-long memories that I will cherish forever. I clearly remember walking in the park with my mother, pregnant with my younger sister (walkman in hand). I also remember being very young and seeing geese at TATA Garden (yes, at some point, there were geese there).
From meeting my life-long friends there and discussing everything under the sun (books, boys, Bollywood, work, career, etc.), to making new walk acquaintances and even pretending not to see couples you recognise. From listening to birds chirp to overhearing the latest television serial updates, I have experienced it all and I treasure it.
Whenever something was bothering me or I just needed some quality solitude, I would visit the garden and listen to my music. It was therapeutic. That feeling is unparalleled.
It is not simply a loss of trees; it is the end of a fully functioning and thriving ecosystem that provided respite to its visitors and home to several local flora and fauna. No, you cannot get back or re-plant 20 plus-year-old beautiful plants and trees.
I am not opposed to development. In fact, I truly believe that Mumbai needs a better transport system and better infrastructure. But I do not believe that destroying trees is the right way (noted architect Alan Abraham has even shown and proposed an alternate way to making the coastal road with little to no damage to the surrounding ecosystem).
This year the torrential rains have caused havoc to the city of Mumbai. There has been unprecedented rainfall, flooding and waterlogging at certain points near the coastal road project, which did not occur earlier. These are indications of rapid climate change and global warming. It is widely known and common knowledge that trees help combat climate change and its disastrous effects.
There are a plethora of emotions I am feeling and words can hardly do justice to how I feel about my “happy place” being taken away amid a global pandemic for a road that would benefit less than 2% of the city’s population.
To everyone who has visited the TATA garden and experienced its glory and beauty, I am sorry for your loss.