Under renovation for the last four years, BMC has already spent Rs 105 crore & says it needs another Rs 37 crore to restore the 100-year-old S K Patil Udyan to its old glory
In a city where breathing space is fast shrinking 1.95 sq m per of open space for every Mumbaikar as per a recent survey the civic body has deprived a section of the populace of a garden that was, once, all the rage with its patrons, but now only evokes rage by dint of having been made messy and off-limits, its patrons claim.
The year in which S K Patil Udyan, near Charni Road station, was closed for renovation. The BMC had promised to reopen the park in 39 months
When the garden opposite Charni Road station, called the S K Patil Udyan, was shut on October 4, 2007 for renovation and for fixing of the underground water tunnel, the BMC had said the work wouldn't take more than 39 months.
However, almost a year after it was supposed to be returned to residents revamped that is, in January 2011 it lies partly deserted and decrepit.
In fact, a senior scribe who lives in Girgaum claimed that the corporation has turned it into the graveyard that it was allegedly built on (see box).
After Mansoor Darvesh, a frequenter to the garden, filed an RTI application, he realised that far from restoring its glory, the BMC ruined what was there of it, and it doesn't seem likely that it would be reopened for the locals any time soon.
As per the RTI reply, until last week, the corporation has spent Rs 105 crore on the park and the subterranean water drains, and plans to spend another Rs 37 crore. But the state of the garden shows few signs of having been repaired, Darvesh pointed out.
The BMC's water supply projects department replied to Darvesh's RTI query, saying, "The holdup is due to the garden department's delay in handing it over to the water supply projects department.
Because trees were obstructing the pipeline alignment, we had to revise the design, as various underground utilities obstructed the pipeline route."
To which, Darvesh asks, "How did the BMC begin designing a renovation plan if they weren't aware of the utilities that were underground? Don't they have a copy of the map? This is a lame excuse and isn't acceptable. The BMC should have completed the project by now," said Darvesh.
But according to RS Ghodge, chief engineer, water supply projects, it is a huge project and requires time. Though he said, "We are in the last leg of the project and it would be complete soon. We won't take more than three months and the garden would be open for the common public."
Ghodge added, "The pipeline coming from Cross Maidan will benefit a larger section of the public in Malabar Hill and adjoining areas. Immediately after the pipeline work is done, the garden will be opened. The total expenditure for the project is estimated at Rs 154 crore."
Darvesh further said that it was troubling that the BMC destroyed a popular garden, a favourite of the residents of the area.
"I come from a far-off suburb (Jogeshwari) but I love the garden (in SoBo) as it gives me peace. It had huge elephant and giraffe statues and other such fun things that were very popular with children, but now all of it is gone," he said.
Senior journalist Neeta Kolhatkar, a resident of Girgaum, who has childhood memories attached to the garden, and still visits it for walks, turned red at the very mention of the BMC's Rs-105 crore expenditure on the garden.
"What has the BMC spent so much money on? Look at the garden, it's in a miserable state. They have thoroughly spoilt it. I remember, as a child my friends and I used to regularly go to the garden and play.
It's famous as the Japanese garden. Nearly 10 decades old, it is one of the oldest gardens that had everything from a walking area to sand pits to swings and the works, even benches for senior citizens.
They have destroyed the garden in the name of renovation," she said, adding, "The locals are very angry with the way the BMC has turned it into a graveyard."
The garden was built on a graveyard and is today bordered by a cemetery, which is about the only reason why people go near the park now, Kolhatkar said.
Rs 37 cr
The amount that the BMC is going to further spend on the park
The time (in months) in which the BMC was supposed to complete the renovations
The year in which S K Patil Udyan, near Charni Road station, was closed for renovation.
The BMC had promised to reopen the park in 39 months. PIC/bipin kokate