Developed at a cost of Rs 30 crore, the 10-acre Pramod Mahajan garden in Dadar has already started facing a host of problems, less than two months after it was finally inaugurated.
Druggies used to scale the compound wall to get into the garden and, with this gaping hole in the wall, they now have free access. Pic/Shadab Khan
Following the heavy rains on June 19, a 25-metre patch of the garden’s wall has crumbled. Many other patches have developed cracks and are also teetering on the brink of collapse. This has led to fears of druggies creeping into the garden after dark like they used to earlier.
The druggies would scale the compound wall to get into the garden at night and now, with a gaping hole in the wall, they have free access. Trees in the garden have also been trimmed haphazardly and several seasonal shrubs have died.
The Pramod Mahajan garden was developed by the BMC’s Sewerage Operations department in September 2014 in the premises of an erstwhile sewage treatment plant (STP) on Tulsi Pipe Road.
The garden was supposed to be inaugurated after the October 2014 Assembly elections and mid-day had reported in April this year how citizens were being deprived of access to a green lung simply because the ruling Shiv Sena had not found the time to inaugurate it.
Following mid-day’s report, the garden was inaugurated on May 3 at the hands of CM Devendra Fadnavis and other dignitaries.
When mid-day visited the garden yesterday, we found that a 25-metre patch of the compound wall had collapsed. An adjacent patch of wall had also developed cracks and it seemed like it would collapse if more rains took place.
A makeshift bamboo fence has now been erected in place of a portion of the missing wall and, after branches of several trees fell on June 19, the BMC is conducting trimming in the garden to make sure no branch falls on the tracks, which run right next to the wall. Several ornamental, seasonal shrubs have died.
“The wall fell after heavy rains that day (June 19). That’s why we erected the makeshift bamboo wall to try and prevent druggies from coming in. Even the fence, however, covers only half the portion of the missing patch. The nearby wall has also developed cracks.
I think it will fall any moment,” said Suresh Bait, a security guard at the garden. Other security guards said that having a portion of the wall missing makes their work much tougher as druggies can sneak in undetected. The contractor on duty, Subhash Meshram, said, “We got rid of the druggies after a lot of effort.
They would come and sit in the darkest corners towards the end of the garden, where there are hardly any lights. We had to keep a close watch and take help of the local police to curb the menace. Now, with the wall collapsing, the druggies have free access.”
Also Read: Mumbai needs every green space it can get
Meshram said that the garden has six watchmen on duty during the day and another six during the night. “We had written to the Gardens department last week to mend the wall. The deputy mayor also visited it. There was also a proposal to demolish the wall and have an iron grille to improve visibility, Since a portion of the wall has collapsed, I hope they undertake work on a priority basis,” he added.
Following the June 19 rains, the BMC undertook trimming of branches on a large scale to make sure none of them fall on the nearby local train tracks. The mukadam (supervisor) of the Gardens Department, who is undertaking this trimming, said, “We have trimmed 45 trees so far. I wish there was someone from the gardens department to inform us which trees need to be trimmed. There is no such directive right now. We are trimming as per our judgement.”
‘Will speak to BMC chief’
“I had requested the MCGM to make a committee of a few garden department officers and members of citizen groups who live in the vicinity to take care of the garden.
As I have just come to know about the wall, I will request the municipal commissioner to look into the matter immediately,” said MP Poonam Mahajan, daughter of late Pramod Mahajan
BMC’s Superintendent of Gardens Vijay Hire said, “I am aware of the problem and we paid a visit to the spot along with the deputy mayor on Friday. I have asked the Garden Cell and ward office to prepare an estimate and Gardens department will undertake work accordingly.
The contractor will be finalised by the end of this week and work will be done within 15 days. Meanwhile, tin sheets will be put up by Wednesday as a temporary measure. Security has been increased and
six security guards watch over the area day and night.”
Harshal Khairnar, sub-engineer of the Sewerage Operations department, said, “We neither have the funds nor the provision to repair the wall. Since the Gardens Department is maintaining the garden, they should do it.”
Place of beauty
Spread over 42,000 sq m, the garden consists of lush lawns, a lotus pond, a lily pond, a covered structure called ‘Prism’ to house smaller shrubs, a hillock lined with potted plants called a ‘ziggurat’, flowering plants, a canteen and rest rooms. The hillock has benches, which give a view of the entire garden. Besides, the Sewerage Operations department has retained all the trees on the plot.