The BMC had allocated Rs 228 crore in its annual budget to maintain and beautify several gardens in the city. A year later, the civic body has managed to spend only Rs 16 crore from this kitty. No wonder most civic gardens are as dirty and unkempt as most of Mumbai's roads
Mumbai does not have much to boast of in terms of play grounds, and now, thanks to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), its parks might go down the same way. The civic body, which had allocated R228 crore from its annual budget to maintain and beautify gardens across the city, has used a meagre six per cent of the budget — Rs 16 crore.
At Mazgaon Garden, the waterfall lies defunct while the stairs are broken. PIC/BIPIN KOKATE
The BMC declared the budget it used till December 2013, which revealed this embarrassing sum spent by the Garden department. Moreover, this allocation will lapse in two months, if not utilised. This is the second year in a row wherein the garden funds have been underutilised by the department. In 2013, a lack of contractors to maintain gardens was cited as a reason by the BMC.
Joint Municipal Commissioner SS Shinde, who is in charge of the city’s gardens, said, “Some gardens are under development and we are yet to receive their bills. Once we get those, chances are that the budget used by the Garden department will go up. We will also know what can be done in this matter.”
Mumbai has 1,052 gardens spread across the city, most of which are in terrible shape. There are about 3,500 open spaces in the city which are reserved as recreation grounds and playgrounds, parks and gardens. However, more than 2,000 of these spaces have been encroached upon. Since two years, provisions have been made for the development of Estuarian Park at Mahim creek, for instance, but the project is yet to see the light of day.
Broken play equipment at the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar-palika Garden near Anushakti Nagar colony. PIC/SAYED SAMEER ABEDI
Abysmally low figures
Niranjan Shetty, tree authority member of the BMC from the Bharatiya Janata Party, said, “This is a very low figure. It will be impossible to use the amount in just two months. I had suggested that the civic body give money to the corporators so we could use it in our respective wards and develop gardens.”
Devendra Amberkar, opposition leader, BMC, said, “There are about eight plots in my area which are yet to be developed. I have been speaking to the administration for more than two years but nothing has been done. The BMC could not rope in contractors for a long time. The money has been wasted.”
Ganpatrao Ambre Maharaj Garden at Andheri West is in a bad shape. PIC/SATYAJIT DESAI
Among the many gardens which lie neglected is the Mazgaon Garden near Dockyard Road station. The garden, which overlooks the Expressway, is rather unsafe at night. The security is inadequate, tiles and staircases are broken, and the waterfall at the entrance is defunct. Locals often spot individuals indulging in substance abuse.
The story is not very different at Ganpatrao Ambre Maharaj Garden at Andheri West, near Navrang Cinema. Worse, it has been developed twice over the past two years, but continues being in bad shape. Play equipment for children is in bad shape and the artificial well in the garden is filled with paver blocks.
The Brihanmumbai Mahanagarpalika Garden near Anushakti Nagar colony, is yet another space which faces neglect. The BMC delayed its contracts, and, as a result, garbage often accumulates in the garden, while the play area lies dysfunctional.
Anandini Thakoor, an activist from Khar, who has helped manage many gardens in her area by utilising resident association funds, claimed that the civic body is badly managed. “The BMC wakes up to maintain gardens only after many complaints pile up. If they have the budget, why doesn’t the BMC just do their work instead of waiting for complaints?” she asked.
GR Vora, an activist from central Mumbai, echoed the sentiment, “The condition of Five Gardens at Wadala was improved after several complaints. We have to wait for the smallest work of maintenance because the BMC claims they lack contractors. They should start utilising funds rather than sitting on issues.”