BMC encroaches upon its own garden in South Mumbai

Feb 19, 2014, 06:36 IST | Varun Singh

After working on pipelines in the Charni Road garden for 6 years and spending Rs 156 crore, Mumbai civic body will give locals a smaller garden after water department claims almost 30 percent of its area

It’s official now. When the S K Patil Garden on Charni Road is finally returned to local residents, it will not have the same dimensions it had when the Water Supply Department closed it down for works back in 2007.

The department has decided to carve out for itself nearly 19,000 square ft of the 70,000 square ft garden, to maintain the pipe that it installed.

Even though the water pipeline work was completed back in December 2012, it is still in a pitiful condition, and yet to be reopened to the public. Pics/Shadab Khan
Even though the water pipeline work was completed back in December 2012, it is still in a pitiful condition, and yet to be reopened to the public. Pics/Shadab Khan

In 2007, more than 75 per cent of the garden was closed, so that renovation and water pipeline work could be completed. The work was to be completed in 39 months. However, it continued for over five years, reaching completion only in 2012, after the BMC had spent Rs 156 crore.

It remains a mystery why the garden department did nothing to restore the garden to its original condition and throw it open to the public (‘BMC spent Rs 156 crore of your taxes and gave you this garden,’ February 6).

Incidentally, authorities involved in the project said that they had been clueless about this decision. After MiD DAY reported on the delay, several authorities in the BMC paid a visit to the site to look into the matter.

One of them was Niranjan Shetty, member Tree Authority. Speaking to MiD DAY, he said yesterday, “On Monday, a meeting was held between the water supply department and the gardens department.

We were talking about when we would start the renovation of the garden. It’s then that we were informed that the complete garden will not be given back fully, as the water supply department has earmarked 1,896 square metres of the 7,000 square metres for itself.

This was news not only for us, but even for the gardens department. We were never told that the water department would take this huge chunk of land from the garden.”

On Sunday, MiD DAY had reported how the locals wanted the garden returned to them in the same condition that it was when it was taken from them (‘Two years, Rs 156 crore and a garden in disarray’ February 16).

However, their garden will now be reduced by 30 per cent. According to a senior official from the BMC, every water tunnel needs to be protected from harm, as lives of lakhs depend on it.

In Limbo since December 2012
A response to an RTI application filed by local resident Jeetendra Ghadge says that according to the BMC’s water department, the work on the water pipeline was completed by December 2012 and the garden handed back to the gardens department. The BMC’s financial budget for 2014-15 has made provisions for the renovation of S K Patil Garden.

The garden, which opened in the early 1960s, was then referred to by locals as the Japanese garden.

Rs 156 crore
Amount already spent on the garden

Rs 7 crore
Value of tender floated for final renovation of the garden

19,000 sq ft
The area to be carved out of the garden by the water supply department

70,000 sq ft
Total area of the garden

The year in which the garden was closed for the public

The types of different plants that were found in the garden before it was shut down for repairs

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