Mumbai: Locals sure BMC will not maintain their garden as well as they do

Residents of Andheri East have been lovingly looking after the Vrindavan garden, which they will now have to hand over to the civic body

The BMC’s notice for the return of 36 plots, given on adoption basis, has rattled many citizen groups maintaining gardens. The Maheshwari Nagar Federation has been maintaining the Vrindavan garden in Andheri East for almost 10 years. They have created a flood-lit football ground, and even a vermicompost centre in the garden. Amid the controversy over the city’s open spaces, they were also served a notice to hand over the plot by January 28, but they believe the BMC will not be able to do an equally good job.

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Locals have employed two gardeners, two women for vermicomposting, a watchman and one manager for Vrindavan garden. They wonder what will happen to the staff and park maintenance now. Pics/Satej Shinde
Locals have employed two gardeners, two women for vermicomposting, a watchman and one manager for Vrindavan garden. They wonder what will happen to the staff and park maintenance now. Pics/Satej Shinde

The chief minister recently ordered the BMC to take back spaces given on adoption basis. Around 36 trusts, organisations and residents’ associations have already been served notices to hand over their plots and the groups maintaining the rest of the 216 plots will also be served notices eventually.

P Sriganesh, a resident of the neighbouring Sterling Court
P Sriganesh, a resident of the neighbouring Sterling Court

One of the 36 plots is the Vrindavan garden in Kondivita, Chakala. This garden is a representative case of the 36 others. It was developed from the funds of the local corporator and MLA in 2008. Since then, the residents of this area have been maintaining it through donations. Spread over an area of 4,000 sq mts, the garden was made on a recreation ground plot. It houses several trees, including the rare Tree of Life (Lignum Vitae), Tree of Heaven (Amerhistia Nobilis), Nagkesar and Ficus Krishnae. There are also Avocado, Karanj, etc. It also consists of flowering shrubs and a football court. The court is flood-lit and is used by children for practising football until late at night. Besides, there is a vermicompost facility here, which can take in upto 120 kg of organic waste every day.

Resident speak
“The vermicompost facility was started much earlier, in 1999, in our building compound. We then moved it here since the plot was lying unutilised. As the population of the area increased, we increased the capacity. Right now, we have five compost pits where organic waste is dumped. We have employed two women from the local Stree Mukti Sanghatna to maintain the facility. The compost is then used in the garden itself,” said Malti Rai, a resident of Maheshwari Nagar.

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Another resident, Sabrina Kannampilly can name almost every tree and its specialities. Kannampilly has planted several trees herself and tends to them regularly. She said, “We have been maintaining this garden meticulously over the years. After the politicians paid for the initial cost, we have maintained this garden through donations. The monthly maintenance takes thousands of rupees. Besides, we have employed two gardeners, two women for vermicomposting, a watchman and one manager for the garden. What will happen to them?”

Unused plot nearby
“There was a plot reserved for a municipal market nearby for almost the same number of years. In 10 years, we have transformed our plot into a garden while that plot is lying just the same,” said P Sriganesh, a resident of the neighbouring Sterling Court.

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All three of them believe that the BMC will not be able to do a very good job at maintaining their garden. “In Marol, there was a beautiful, 5-acre garden developed by the residents. After they handed it to the civic body, it was ruined within a month,” Rai said. He said there is no chance the BMC will keep this garden the way they have kept it so far.

The ladies are determined to continue to take care of the garden even after it is handed over to prevent it from falling into disrepair. They are ready to take on guerrilla gardening: they will even scale the walls if the garden is sealed, to make sure the plants are looked after, they said.

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