Anuj Ismail: MLA flouts PMC norms, allows entry to pets

Senior citizens who visit the park complain that dog lovers release their pets in the park, which then soil and damage the premises

As the name suggests, Nana Nani park is popular with senior citizens in the city, often spotted taking leisurely walks there. For quite some time however, the elderly park visitors have found diminishing pleasure there, as they have had to share the green space with dog lovers who regularly bring their pets for walks.

dog lovers
Every Sunday, dog lovers are allowed to bring their pets to one section of the park. Senior citizens complain that the dogs are often allowed to run amok, soiling and damaging the area. Pics/Shashank Sane

Flouting PMC norms prohibiting pets at the park situated near Omkareshwar temple, sitting MLA Girish Bapat had asked PMC officials to reserve half the park space for dog lovers to walk their pets once a week. Senior citizens however, have expressed agony several times, and demanded that this space meant for them should not be encroached upon by anyone else.

Members of the Dog Lovers Foundation
Members of the Dog Lovers Foundation say that they clean up after the dogs

Admitting that PMC norms had been flouted, MLA Girish Bapat said, “It’s true that I had given dog lovers permission to take their dogs to the Nana Nani park for walks. I had asked them to submit an application to PMC officials about the same. I am also aware that senior citizens are suffering due to this. I am planning to create a separate space for dog lovers on the river banks next year.”

The park has two sections connected by a bridge. Every Sunday, between 8 am and 9 am, one section is opened to the Dog Lovers Foundation (DLF), a local group of citizens who come round every week to walk their pets at the park. During this period, officials from PMC’s garden department shut access to the bridge, to prevent the dogs from going over to the other side.

But senior citizens complain that the dogs run amok in the park, damaging plants and soiling the pathways. Luvkumar Kardik (62), a daily visitor to the park, said, “I had to change the timing of my visits due to the dog menace. I had tried to tell the foundation’s activists that dogs should not come inside the park, but they don’t listen to us. They argue with us when confronted.”

Arguments between the pet owners and PMC employees are also a regular feature at the park on Sundays, but DLF members insist they have MLA Bapat’s support in the issue.

Before the park was built, citizens were known to take their pets for walks in the same area. But after the park was built, about two and a half years ago, according to regulations, pets were not allowed there. DLF had approached Bapat at the time, who permitted them access to the park once a week.

Paresh Mahamuni, one of the members said, “When PMC developed this place with a walking track and fencing, they did not allow our dogs to enter the park. But because of MLA Girish Bapat, we could get permission to bring our dogs on Sundays for at least an hour.”

“We tell pet owners to clean up, in case their dog soils the park. The problem is with newcomers who have recently joined the group and don’t know about this,” he added.

Chief Garden Superintendent (PMC) Tukaram Jagtap said, “As per rules, pets or stray dogs are not allowed in the park. We have not received any application for permitting pets in Nana Nani park. In any case, MLA or other local representatives do not have any right to give permissions which basically flout our norms.”

“As I am unaware of the entire issue, I will ask officials to collect information and take necessary action against the violators,” Jagtap added.

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