Local residents have complained that due to the 'open air liquor den' in the civic park, families can no longer go out for an evening stroll
At dusk, MW Desai Garden in Malad transforms into an open air liquor den and a haven for drug addicts, making it one of the most dreaded spots in the neighbourhood where residents never dare to venture out.
SUNDAY MiD DAY discovered that apart from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) obvious neglect of the unkempt civic garden, which the corporation also owns and manages, there were scores of empty liquor bottles and telltale marks of drug abuse, which justify the concerns of the locals.
The dilapidated police chowki that now serves as a den for drug addicts
A drug addict, who has converted the dilapidated police chowki inside the garden into his den, made a hasty exit when he realised that he was being photographed. This paper had earlier reported on how even though the BMC had allocated Rs228 crore in its annual budget to maintain and beautify several gardens in the city, it had only managed to spend Rs 16 crore from its kitty.
The state of affairs at MW Garden has revealed civic apathy at its ugliest form. “Having a stroll in the park, especially with family, is absolutely impossible as groups of people openly indulge in substance abuse. Their loud conversations, filled with expletives, make the atmosphere totally unpleasant and scary. The drink sessions often start at noon and by evening, it becomes a full-fledged rowdy bar,” says Sheikh Fahim, a
Samson David, another resident, said that a mentally challenged man, who made the garden his home, added to their woes as he was notorious for pelting stones at unsuspecting strollers. Over 6000 huts had mushroomed adjacent to the park, which was being used by dwellers not only as an entry and exit point, but also it as an open air toilet. “There was a police beat chowki inside the garden, which was also defaced by miscreants,” added David.
Devendra Jain, assistant municipal commissioner, P-north ward office, explained that he has initiated a process to beautify and maintain the garden. “Our first step is to make a proper compound wall and enhance security. Once that is done, we will float a tender to get agencies to maintain the garden,” he said. Hanumant Gosavi, Jr tree officer P-North, also assured that the garden, which has been neglected for many years, will be given a complete facelift soon.