As we know, BKC has been created by carrying out landfilling of 630 acres of the Mithi River, wetlands and mangroves. An SC appointed panel has stated that the reclamation of land for the creation of BKC is responsible for the overflowing of the Mithi. The report also states that in the vicinity of Mithi around BKC, out of the original water spread area of 800 acres in 1930, 400 had already been reclaimed by 1973. The overflowing of the Mithi was a major reason for the catastrophic 2005 floods, and causes floods every year during the monsoon as it paralyses all three of Mumbai’s suburban railway lifelines and forces evacuations of hundreds of people living along its banks. Although the BMC and MMRDA have built retention walls to direct the flow of the river, widened and deepened major portions of the river to ensure water doesn’t overflow, the river continues to flood during the monsoon, bringing the city to a standstill. The panel found that the upper reach of the river from Vihar Lake to Andheri-Kurla road has a very steep gradient, whereas downstream from Andheri-Kurla to the Mahim Causeway is a flat gradient. Thus, any increase in the water flow causes the river to flood now as it doesn’t have enough space to accommodate that extra water flow owing to the huge piece of land reclaimed for Bandra Kurla Complex. The final report stated, “This reclamation has led to the waters overflowing, stagnating and rising in the river inside the retaining wall section, thereby affecting the outflow of flood waters into the river and upstream areas.” The panel also observed that it compounded the problem during high tide. “This has also resulted in the excessive situation, thereby grossly undermining the river’s water-carrying capacity,” it stated.
Before the establishment of Bandra Kurla Complex, South Bombay was an agglomeration of most of the corporate offices in the city, making it a strenuous task for employees to reach to their offices. Most of them lived in the suburbs or outside the city in areas like Thane, forcing them to travel for up to 2-2.5 hours using public transport during rush hours, increasing congestion and traffic in the city. Thus the idea of BKC as a commercial hub closer to the city centre emerged, with a local train station originally proposed for the area. However, the idea was discarded, the reason for it being that BKC is close enough to the Kurla, Sion and Bandra railway stations. One might think if this was done because all the major international and national companies were to have an office space here and a local train station just wouldn’t be the “smart” choice.
The Maharashtra government was eyeing a plot in BKC for the Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) car shed, but eventually rejected the option inJanuary 2020 and shifted the plot to Aarey Colony. Mumbai’s Aarey Colony is often referred to as the ‘city’s lungs’, spread over 13000 hectares and home to over 27 Adivasi villages and inhabited by various animal species. Building a metro car shed over here would require the cutting of over 2700 trees and displace animals out of their homes. Yet, this plot was approved over the BKC plot as it was of very high real estate value with other projects planned around it and rebuilding tunnels towards this depot would delay the project. Hence, the Aarey site gets approval amidst strong protests from locals, activists, celebrities and the work began, only to be stopped by the government later.