Locals say that BMC has wasted approximately Rs 2-crore of public money on renovation of a garden in Wadala
The renovation work on Indulal Bhuva Garden, in Wadala, which commenced last April, is still on, but the recreation area seems to have enough lights already, to illuminate the entire neighbourhood. The local residents feel that the Rs 2 crore budget allegedly spent by the Garden Department on the renovation, about which they have many objections, is a sheer waste of public money.
A gazebo has also been put up in the recreation area that has the lights
When mid-day visited the site on Saturday afternoon, it was surprising that an area less than approximately 750 sq meters, which is being redeveloped as a recreation area, had over 48 lights, some just a couple of feet apart, cramping the open space. According to the BMC notice board there, the garden will be open from 4 pm to 8.30 pm in the evening. So why do they require so many lights for maximum of two hours (after sunset till closing), is another question being raised.
The BMC has also set up shacks for 4-5 workers to live in and installed a huge storage container with electricity, air condition and water connections, apparently for the architect or some senior officer.
“In April 2015, for some reason, the BMC and its Garden Department decided to renovate the garden. While the play area remained untouched, the other half saw some drastic and unwanted changes. The old plants were uprooted and discarded, the boundary wall which was in good condition was demolished. Further more, a huge waterfall which was not turned on in the past 27 years, and must have cost a bomb was demolished,” complained Nikhil Desai, a 63-year-old activist from the neighbourhood.
He added that a music system is proposed for the garden, but it will harm the tranquility of the garden. “A major portion of the garden is covered by cement, and a gazebo was built and there are too many lights. The entire concept of a garden has been compromised,” he complained.
Another local resident alleged that old tiles, which were in good condition, were replaced by new tiles, which have been laid shabbily. “It was as recently as March that they decided to lay a new lawn, so a truck full of soil was unloaded on the pavement outside the garden. They removed all the flowering plants and bushes along with the lawn and of course, all of it went to the garbage instead of being replanted,” the resident complained.
Disha Shah, mother of a three-year-old child, was also concerned about the fact that the new garden had no play area for tiny tots. “Over a year back we had submitted a petition signed by over 50 locals, requesting a small area of the garden have some basic facilities like see saws and slides, so that parents do not have to travel all the way to Five Gardens or Kings Circle with the kids, but so far no action has been taken.”
The other side
The recently appointed Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Keshav Ubale, from F-North BMC ward passed the buck, saying the entire renovation is being done by the Garden Department, and the ward had no say in it. “I have only seen the garden from the outside and never had the chance to count the number of light posts inside. You say that you have counted the lights, I am not aware of them,” he said.
Jeetendra Pardesi, Head of the Garden Cell of BMC, said that the entire project was looked after by the Executive Engineer. But when contacted, the executive engineer said he was new to the department. Executive Engineer Avinash Engineer stated that he had recently joined the Garden Cell and all the lights and fittings had been installed before he had joined. “Give me some time and I shall investigate the matter and revert,” he said.
Nyna Seth, the local councillor, said all decisions pertaining to the design and structure of the garden, were taken by highly qualified individuals, who have taken the safety angle into consideration, like preventing children being kidnapped or chain snatching, by fixing ample lighting. “It is people who have no work, who call the press and photographers, to hamper the good work being done,” she said.