10-acre garden in the heart of Mumbai is ready, but you can't go there
In a city gasping for a breath of fresh air, citizens have been deprived of the use of one of its largest gardens for nearly seven months now.
The garden, located on the premises of a defunct Sewage Treatment Plant in Dadar, off Tulsi Pipe Road, consists of lush lawns, a lotus pond and a hillock lined with potted flowering plants. Pics/Suresh KK
The 42,000-sq metre (10.38-acre) garden in Dadar, in the heart of the city, which has been ready since September 2014, has still not been inaugurated, thanks to a tussle between two departments in the BMC and the alleged disinterest shown by the political establishment.
Located on Tulsi Pipe Road in the heart of the city, the garden has lush lawns, a lotus pond, a covered structure called Prism to house smaller shrubs, and a hillock lined with potted flowering plants
The garden, located on the premises of a defunct Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Senapati Bapat Marg (Tulsi Pipe Road), is named after late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan. The STP had shut down in 1999 and the space had been lying unutilised for more than a decade, before the BMC’s Sewerage Operations (SO) department decided to redevelop it.
A garden, along with two buildings for the SO and Storm Water Drains (SWD) department, was developed in 2014 at a cost of Rs 30 crore. This was the first time the SO department had developed a garden in the city.
The sprawling garden consists of lush lawns, a lotus pond, a covered structure called Prism to house smaller shrubs, and a hillock lined with potted flowering plants. The hillock has benches for visitors, which offer panoramic views of the entire garden.
The garden was supposed to be inaugurated after the code of conduct for the October Assembly elections ceased to be in force, but still hasn’t seen the light of day. According to BMC officials, the key reason for the garden not being inaugurated is an inter-departmental tussle between the Sewerage Operations and the Gardens department.
The garden can be inaugurated only after the SO department hands it over to the Gardens wing, which it claims it hasn’t done because the latter is yet to appoint a contractor for its maintenance. The Gardens department, on the other hand, says the contractor has been appointed and the SO department is delaying the handover.
Both departments, however, were united in blaming politicians for not inaugurating the garden. “It was the first time our department developed such a garden. And we have been maintaining it even though that is not our job. We are ready to hand over the charge of the garden, but the Gardens department, it seems, hasn’t finalised on a contractor yet.
As soon as they do it, we will complete the handover. As for the inauguration, that’s a political matter. I can’t say how long it will take,” said Vipinkumar Pandey, chief engineer, Sewerage Operations (SO) department. Vijay Hire, superintendent of BMC’s Gardens department, however, said, “We have finalised on a contractor and a work order has been issued recently. The total cost of maintenance for three years will be Rs 8 crore.
Things have been completed from our end. But I really can’t say when it will be inaugurated. It is a political decision.” Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas, who is in charge of civic gardens, said, “A work order has been issued and the charge will officially be handed over to the Gardens department soon. But I don’t know when it will be inaugurated, or by whom.”
Milind Mhaske, Project director at NGO Praja
The city is already deprived of open spaces and it is almost criminal to keep people from using a space like this. Don’t they realise the garden was developed with people’s money?
Jacinta Millar, Wadala resident
This is shocking. I didn’t even know such a garden existed. How can they keep us from using it?
Junisha Dama, Dadar resident
The city already has a dearth of green spaces. And when we get a sprawling one like this, the powers-that-be embroil it in procedure.
Chevlyn Fernandes, A student from Dadar
A new government is in place. It is quite startling that they haven’t inaugurated it and given up a photo opportunity.
Asked about the issue, Shiv Sena leader Yashodhar Phanse said, “The garden has not been inaugurated because of the delay in handover. If all the formalities are completed, the garden can be inaugurated within 10 days.”
BJP’s Bandra West MLA Ashish Shelar, who has taken a keen interest in the garden’s inauguration and has been following up on it, said, “I am following up (but) the BMC is delaying the inauguration for reasons best known to it.”
When mid-day asked Phanse whether leaders from the Sena or the BJP would inaugurate the garden, Phanse said, “This is a garden of our coalition. Both parties will together decide who will inaugurate it.”
All inauguration events are organised by the Mayor’s office. Even if there was a delay in handover, the ruling party could have gone ahead with the inauguration and the formalities could have been completed later. After all, Mumbaikars should not have to suffer because of technicalities. I assure you I will look into the matter myself. - Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte
The garden has 100-odd large trees, including Mango, Coconut, Gulmohur, Banyan and Peepul ones. The garden also has about 2.5 lakh plants, with the pots having creepers around them.
Rs 30 crore
The cost at which the garden was developed
The approximate number of plants in the garden