mid-day garden audit: Dadar's Pramod Mahajan Kala Park has no play area, dirty loos, no lights

Jun 04, 2018, 08:03 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

BMC opened the Pramod Mahajan Kala Park in Dadar West with much promise, but the ground reality is an unsanitary, stinking open space that lacks basic infrastructure, facilities for its visitors

There have been several instances of rat snakes slithering out from their hidey holes on the walking track
There have been several instances of rat snakes slithering out from their hidey holes on the walking track

mid-day garden auditSpread over 10-odd acres, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) took a long time to throw open the Pramod Mahajan Kala Park in Dadar West to the public, having started work on it in 2008, receiving a lot of flak for it. When it was finally inaugurated in May 2015, it was with a lot of pomp and promise. But nearly four years down the line, instead of being a space to relax amid the concrete jungle, it's just a green blob lacking basic hygiene and infrastructure.

The city is starving for open spaces amid skyscrapers and nonstop development, and in such a scenario, a splash of green is a welcome relief. But such is the state of BMC's Pramod Mahajan garden that citizens can't help turning up their nose (literally), unable to find any peace or relaxation.

Washrooms on the premises are in an unsanitary state due to no water. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Washrooms on the premises are in an unsanitary state due to no water. Pics/Suresh Karkera

No space for kids
The garden that lies in the heart of the city boasts of ponds with lilies and lotuses, and is home to around 1 lakh plants of 180 species. It sees nearly a thousand visitors daily and yet has no proper provision for children. And the fact that it lacks a dedicated playing area for kids is more of a bother for the adults — for want of a space for themselves, the children run around across the garden and on the walking path, getting in the way of elderly walkers and others.

Ramesh Surve, a senior citizen who has been visiting the garden since it opened, said, "There is no area for kids to play; so they keep running all over, causing problems for the walkers, especially senior citizens." There have also been several instances of rat snakes slithering out from their hidey holes on the walking track. While considered harmless for humans, visitors have expressed concern for the children who play around with abandon.

Due to lack of a dedicated children's play area, kids often run on the walking track, getting in the way of joggers and those exercising. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Due to lack of a dedicated children's play area, kids often run on the walking track, getting in the way of joggers and those exercising. Pic/Suresh Karkera

High and dry
Those visiting this garden either need to carry their own water bottles or stay thirsty. It doesn't have drinking water coolers, complained regular visitors. And, to make matters worse, while recycled water from sewage treatment is used in the garden, there is insufficient water in the washrooms, thus leaving them unsanitary and filthy. Santosh Yadav, a Dadar resident and a regular visitor, said, "We would want the toilets to be kept well. Also, because it is a huge space, if one more toilet is added, it will be very helpful for senior citizens, many whom are diabetic and cannot control their bladder."

Residents have complained that one section of the garden doesn't have any lights, while several of those installed elsewhere are non-functional. Pic/Atul Kamble
Residents have complained that one section of the garden doesn't have any lights, while several of those installed elsewhere are non-functional. Pic/Atul Kamble

41,916
Total (in square metres) area of the garden

1,000
Approximate number of visitors it gets daily

Also read: Mumbai's first 'open garden library' - pretty and political

A slice of history
There was a sewage treatment plant on this plot, which was shut in 1999, leaving the space in a state of abandonment. Civic body's sewage department took almost seven years (from 2008 to 2015) to convert it into a park. Right between BMC's sewerage operations and stormwater drains department buildings, and it has railway tracks in its backyard. A few months back, security was beefed up after repeated complaints by locals about squatters on the premises.

Prime problems
> Lack of proper illumination in the evenings
> No separate area for kids to play
> Non-availability of drinking water coolers
> Unkempt restrooms

Not a rosy picture

Prakash Parab   Prakash Parab, a senior citizen
'There are no lights in one section of the garden, and those that are there in other areas are non-functional. But the problem of lack of water in restrooms is a bigger dampener, as is the non-provision of drinking water'
     
Dr Ajit Bhurke   Dr Ajit Bhurke, a resident of Dadar
'There are some wires left open in the park, which can be dangerous for walkers and joggers; they can trip on them or even get electrocuted. We have informed the security many times, but nothing has been done so far'


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