Mumbai: Open plots neglected by understaffed BMC

Vacant plots await development in spite of having the budget

The city is woefully behind the rest of the country when it comes to having playgrounds and gardens. And that is not even the bad news. It is, perhaps, this — hundreds of vacant plots remain undeveloped in spite of being allotted necessary budget provisions, as various departments of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — including the Garden Cell, which looks at the redevelopment of existing gardens and development of barren plots in to gardens) — are woefully low on staff members.

BMC garden
Work in progress at the BMC garden in Versova, Andheri. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

However, the city is expected to get 30 new gardens and playgrounds this year — many of them will also have theme gardens at a cost of Rs 90 crore. Work orders for about 30 new plots will be issued in the coming month across the city. Currently, the Garden Cell has no clerical staff and survives with only five engineers, while overlooking the development of various gardens in the city. The ideal staff strength in the department is about 37 employees, including clerical staff members and engineers.

Out of the 30 gardens under construction, which will be ready by this year, about six gardens are at Andheri West alone, and four are in the Standing Committee Chairman’s ward — Versova, Yari road area. Work on these 30 gardens commenced in February 2014 and the contract for the same is valid till August 2015.

However, if sources are to be believed, work on all four gardens will be complete by February this year, after Standing Committee Chairman, Yashodhar Phanse addressed the issue. One of the engineers, on condition of anonymity, said, “The Chairman was very angry because of the contractor’s shoddy work and the speed at which he was working. So he warned him to complete the work by February as Rs 10 crore is involved in the development of the gardens.

The contractor promised to complete the work next month itself.” Joint Municipal Commissioner, SS Shinde, said, “About 30 gardens will have pathways, kid zone, open gyms. Another 30 plots’ work orders are in the process (of getting sanctioned) which should be done in a month’s time.”

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