We started with the movement for “Save the Water Front”

At the southern tip of the sea front at Bandra is Lands End, with the historic 400 hundred years old Castella De Aguada, popularly known as the Bandra Fort or Bandra Point. The Lands End Hill with a breath taking view of the sea and Mahim & Worli forts across the bay, at one time had nearly 5000 trees, and was the only green space between Kamala Nehru Park at Malabar Hill and Borivali National Park.

However, The Lands End Hill was being continuously pillaged, denuded of trees and vegetation and even partly levelled off by unscrupulous organisations. The hill itself would have disappeared were in not for the relentless fight by the citizens spanning three decades.

Further, the one kilometre long sea front along B.J. Road had become so ravaged and ugly that even walking along side was a nightmare. Around 1997 the citizens, with the help of the renowned architect and social activist P. K. Das, took up the cudgels with the authorities to save and beautify this water front. Finally in 1999 all the necessary sanctions and permissions were in place and the promenade at Bandstand commenced.

In 2002, seeing the track record of this citizens’ association in maintaining the promenade along B. J. Road, Bandstand, the authorities finally handed over the Lands End area to the citizens. The Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust restored the contours of the hill and developed an urban forest with plantation of palm trees, shrubs and lawns in open green areas on the seafront complete with pumps and watering systems, power, lighting and even an amphitheatre. The terraced landscape hill side with lush green vegetation, consisting of nearly 600 trees & shrubs of at least 60 different varieties, have made the Lands End a must visit place in Mumbai.

For over a decade the Promenade on the Bandra Bandstand Seafront and the Lands End near Bandra Fort, have been the focus of a unique partnership between the local citizens (Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust), a socially conscious Architect (P.K.Das) and Members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) Smt. Shabana Azmi and Shri Dilip Kumar who allotted funds from the MPLAD Scheme. Further beautification and improvement were carried out by the Trust themselves, and helped in a big way with funds allotted by M.P. Smt. Priya Dutt, M.L.A Minister Shri Baba Siddique and Municipal Councillor Shri. Asif Zakaria.

The citizens association, Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust was registered in 1998, as an offshoot of the Mohalla Committee and the various Residents Associations of Bandra Bandstand who had been carrying on a relentless fight for nearly three decades to save this area from degradation. The main objective of the Trust is to protect, preserve, and maintain open spaces, to promote gardens and recreation areas as a social resource, in harmony with nature.

The Trust is managed by a Board of nine Trustees, all old residents of this area drawn from various professional fields and business. The Trust has been granted exemption under Sec 80 G of the Income Tax Act, and Audited accounts and returns have been filed up to last year ending 31st March, 2012.

All permissions and sanctions and no objection certificates for the promenade and the development at Lands End have been obtained in the name of the Trust. These are from the BMC, Collector, Mumbai Suburban District, NOC from the Maharashtra Maritime Board, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, Municipal Architect & Garden superintendent and Asst. Municipal Commissioner – H/West Ward.

The success of this project, apart from the citizens’ participation, is also due to the cooperative attitude of the Government authorities who helped in resolving the various problems encountered. Today the BMC – H/West Ward is equally proud of this neighborhood as are the residents. This social environmental project has won many national & international awards and has been featured frequently in leading newspapers. It is today declared as one of the seventh tourist spots around the entire Mumbai coastline.

The social impact of these developments for environmental preservation has been tremendous. The citizens have developed a feeling of ownership of these public spaces which were retrieved from total degradation. The mingling of all strata of society irrespective of class or creed is exemplary.

Today, tens of thousands of citizens from near and far descent on these public spaces to breathe in the freshness of nature and experience the beauty of the spectacular sea front and thank all those who are selflessly engaged in maintaining these gifts of nature.

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