Mumbai: Matunga residents upset with caged Hooper garden

BMC, which renovated Hooper Garden, has enclosed basketball, volleyball courts with iron bars

Part of a recreational ground in Matunga has been converted into a cage after the BMC enclosed its basketball and volleyball courts with iron bars, marring the aesthetics of the area. Residents and local activists have claimed that the garden is close to a heritage precinct, and hence, should have not been tampered with.

BMC’s garden cell has enclosed the basketball and volleyball courts at Hooper Garden, Matunga with iron bars, giving it the appearance of a cage. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
BMC’s garden cell has enclosed the basketball and volleyball courts at Hooper Garden, Matunga with iron bars, giving it the appearance of a cage. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

The Hooper Garden in Matunga is a decades-old space, near the Five Gardens heritage precinct. The ground boasts of basketball and volleyball courts.

BMC’s Prof MV Chandgadkar
BMC’s Prof MV Chandgadkar

Recently, local corporator Nayana Seth had demanded that the garden be developed further, in order to incorporate more facilities. Following this, the BMC’s garden cell envisaged enclosing the basketball and volleyball grounds, to create a viewing area between the two courts, a walkway and a rock garden nearby. The authorities cleared the proposal and work is almost complete.

However, residents and activists are unhappy with the project. “They have turned this garden into a jail. Putting up nets around courts is fine because the ball could hurt others, but why did they put up the iron bars? It has ruined the beauty of the ground,” said local activist Nikhil Desai.

Desai also said that the viewing area has been constructed in a secluded spot and could become a den for anti-social activities. He has demanded that the playground be converted into an open space again.

Seth said, “I am neither a civic official nor an engineer. I only point out what needs to be developed in my area. It is the BMC, which designs and executes the proposal.”

However, deputy municipal architect (garden cell) Minakshi Mane said that she was unaware of the problem and would have to look into the matter.

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