In what perhaps represents a quintessential feature of Mumbai, the mini garden beneath the flyover in Lower Parel is basically 10,000 sq ft of space crammed between one of the busiest traffic junctions in the central business district between Dadar and Elphinstone.
Yet, the transformed public spot is a vibrant greenish-yellow patch with a community space, sitting arena, play area and interesting artwork. The combination of small plants surrounded by large ones with big blades leave a lasting fresh impression on passers-by, almost making it seem like a miniature farm.
The space is part of the Green Mile Project, developed by Nucleus Office Parks, in one of the first public-private-partnership (PPP) projects which envisaged redevelopment of a one-mile stretch on a street in Mumbai’s central district.
The flyover garden cannot compete with the theme-based gardens across the city; nevertheless, the open area that neatly occupies the gap between the traffic junctions is precious to the space-starved locals who have long been fighting a pandemic fatigue. The humble garden also includes a library, children’s play zone, green aisle as well as exercise and recreational zones. For over one lakh commuters who navigate the area amid heavy traffic, this greenery serves as a welcome sight for sore eyes.
Unlike other city gardens, this space is covered by concrete and lined with plants. As evening approaches, the junction roars with the noise of heavy traffic and the community space fills up fast. While some walk up and down the patch at leisure, others gather around the sitting area for a quick chat.
Shantanu Gundu, who regularly turns up here to play cards with his friends, says “My friends and I love hanging out here, especially because it is very close to our house. The space is great and everyone seems to enjoy it”.
The kids’ play area buzzes with activity as children run and jump around. “We were in desperate need of a public space like this. I am delighted with the project and plan on coming here as often as I can,” says Ramji Solankhi, while playing with his grandson. Once dusk falls, yellow fairy lights add to the beauty of the garden.
The pillars, which peek out of the long stretch of greens, are covered with minimalistic artwork, featuring the place’s history surrounding its mills. “These artworks signify the rich history of the Lower Parel part of the city” which seems to have been forgotten, according to project lead Raghavendra Bisen. The paintings cover everything from the old ST ticket to the mills, mill workers, Dadar’s famous flower market and even have figures with historical relevance, like Savitribai Phule.
The Green Mile has not only spruced up a busy street in the area, it has proved to be a valuable asset for people in the vicinity