After months of being locked in an unnecessary political tug of war between the Shiv Sena and Congress, Mumbai’s first garden under a flyover was finally opened to the public on Monday.
It was heartening to see locals at the inauguration of this green space nestled under the Tulpule flyover in Matunga. Called Nanalal D Mehta garden, it has a meandering 600m jogging track, which will no doubt be a boon for locals looking for some exercise in the monsoon, when runners can no longer take to the roads in the rain.
This novel initiative is a very welcome one in a city that has barely any open spaces. The few gardens that we have are, more often than not, in very bad conditions. Broken swings and slides make them dangerous for kids. Despite this, the lack of options forced citizens to queue up to use these facilities on holidays.
In a city full of concrete, even a pocket-sized patch of green is like a much-needed oasis. The Matunga endeavour must now be replicated under other flyovers as well. The civic authorities need to come together with the locals, and figure out where they can build these little nooks that give respite and recreation to people.
One sees that several spaces under the flyover have become parking lots. There are still others that are vacant and have actually become dumping grounds for debris, construction material, old cars and scooters. Yet others have become homes for vagrants. These spaces must be reclaimed and converted into more green pockets.
Will and relentless follow-up is needed to achieve this goal. It is also good to get the community involved in such pursuits. Of late, we have seen citizens adopting railway stations in collaboration with NGOs. Tree painting is another initiative that involves people in the aesthetic aspect of the city. So it is with parks and gardens. When public infrastructure is exploited and enhanced in this way, it can only mean a win-win situation for everybody.
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