Mumbai: Private players claim BMC can't maintain open spaces on its own

The municipal corporation issued notices to several organisations and trusts that have been maintaining the open spaces, asking to return them

The BMC on Tuesday issued notices to several private organisations and trusts for handing back the city’s open spaces. Some of the private organisations and trusts have been managing the open spaces for decades now, and have claimed that the BMC will never be able to look after them as well as they do.

Private players may be upset with the notices from the BMC, but locals are glad about it. Pic for representation
Private players may be upset with the notices from the BMC, but locals are glad about it. Pic for representation

After coming out with the controversial RG/PG policy, the civic administration was in for a rude shock, when the very political parties that had passed it, backtracked on it. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray even hinted that it is the municipal commissioner who makes all the policies. Following the backlash from activists and citizens, the chief minister had ordered the commissioner to take back 225 open spaces, currently given to various organisations on adoption basis. These organisations had entered into an agreement with the BMC for 5 years with certain terms and conditions, and only then were they allowed to maintain the plots.

Read Story: BMC's controversial open space policy passed

On Tuesday, the Garden Department issued notices to private players maintaining 36 open spaces in the city, ordering a handover. Some of the prominent ones include Horniman Circle garden, Sane Guruji garden in Prabhadevi, General A K Vaidya garden at Bandra Reclamation.

Officials from the Tata group, which maintains the Horniman Circle garden and MET group, which maintains the Vaidya garden, were unavailable for comment.

mid-day spoke to Ashok Kanwar, president, Cuffe Parade Residents’ Association (CPRA) that looks after a garden. Although the CPRA hasn’t been served a notice yet, Kanwar was vocal against the new arrangement. He said, “We have been maintaining this garden for 30 years and there has never been any complaint against us. In fact, it is one of the best gardens in the city. The BMC cannot maintain open spaces on its own, it is impractical. They want to take plots back from politicians and others are suffering in the process.”

Official speak
“The BMC is quite capable of maintaining open spaces. We are already maintaining about 700 of them. There is no dearth of funds. Besides, there are garden staff which help in maintenance,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner (gardens) S S Shinde.

Read Story: Activists look at ways to get open space policy scrapped

Though private players may be upset with the notices from the BMC, locals have welcomed the move. Santacruz corporator Geeta Chavhan for instance, is glad about the local Sambhaji Udyan. “A so-called trust was maintaining it but they had illegally constructed a gym there. Besides, there were a lot of illicit activities going on. I even met the municipal commissioner in the matter. I’m glad they are taking it back,” she said.

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