mid-day Garden Audit: Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Udyan lays in ruins at the hands of drug addicts
Even as the biggest garden in the suburbs struggles to tackle addicts, miscreants and those lacking basic civic sense, municipal corporation's supreme indifference to the damage they inflict, besides other issues, is not helping matters
One would think a near idyllic place like Powai would have a spectacular garden - lush green and sparkling clean. In fact, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Udyan, the biggest in the suburbs and having dense green cover as well as different botanical plants and trees, is the perfect example of how municipal corporation's utter neglect is killing its beauty.
Nature, money down the drain
Spread across 25 acres (almost equal to Oval Maidan), Ambedkar Udyan is the only garden in the city to have a huge lake adjacent to it, with citizens flocking to the garden during monsoon to see the waterfall created there by an overflowing Powai Lake.
But the moment you enter, you can see for yourself how Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC's) poor maintenance, despite spending crores of taxpayers' money, has made the soothing green space into a chaotic mess.
Broken liquor bottles, plastic waste and other litter can be found in several spots across the garden, as the civic staffers haven't been properly disposing it. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Possibly the only civic garden in the city to close at 6 pm (other BMC gardens shut around 8 pm or 9 pm) due to druggies and drunkards, one of the biggest problems here is the litter of empty liquor bottles. From children's play area to the interiors, the garden is full of them, many lying broken and posing a risk of injury.
A few years back, when the garden had been beautified, lights and fountain had been installed. But now, it's all dysfunctional, meaning there is no illumination at night. Light poles have been uprooted with loose wires trailing around it, possibly the work of vandals.
With the BMC staff not bothering to properly water all the plants on the premises, they have been slowly drying up and dying
From garden to dump yard
Also, several visitors lack basic civic sense and litter the place with used plastic bottles, empty chips packets and other waste, made worse by the fact that BMC's cleaning staff seems least bothered to do their job. So, the end result is bunched up plastic waste in several spots and corners, not properly disposed of.
Morning walkers and joggers are in love with the greenery the place offers but are fed up with the shoddy maintenance. Powai resident Vinaya Naik told mid-day, "The BMC had earlier appointed a contractor for maintenance of this place. Things were good then. The contractor was doing a fine job and had even appointed sufficient security guards to keep miscreants at bay. Since the maintenance, cleanliness and security has passed back into BMC's charge, the garden is becoming a dump day by day. The staffers don't do any work, just sit in their office chit-chatting."
In 2013, the civic body had awarded a Rs 7.6-crore maintenance and operation contract for three years. The contractor was given the responsibility of looking after different works, namely horticulture, play-area equipment, fountains and others, till 2016.
Naik added, "The BMC has spent so much money on this garden, but it doesn't show at all. Also, there are only two security guards, which is not enough for a place of this size."
When contacted, former MNS corporator Avinash Sawant said, "BMC has spent nearly R36 crore of taxpayers' money on maintenance and beautification of gardens over the last few years. But after seeing the condition of this garden, you wonder where the money has gone.
"The BMC is deliberately not increasing security staff, as its staffers want to go home early. They say anti-social elements keep beating up the current guards. But if that's the case, why have they not lodged any police complaint? Money was spent on lighting the garden; what's the use of that if it shuts by 6 pm?"
a Kurla resident
'This is a lush green place; so people come here from far-off areas. But the municipal corporation is not bothered about keeping it in the pink of health. Its staffers don't carry out their duties of cleaning and watering the plants in the garden, with the result being garbage lying all around and green drying up'
Plants and Animal Welfare Society
'Besides not watering and taking care of the existing plants, many of which are botanical species, the BMC is planting non-native plants here, which are difficult to keep alive. Also, because the toilets here don't work, people urinate in the garden. One can find plastic waste all over, and there are no composting pits for disposal of garden waste either. This garden is huge and has a lot of scope. If BMC wanted, it could turn it into one of the best gardens in Mumbai'
* Non-functional toilets
* Poor cleanliness and maintenance, with most plants dried up
* Improper security
* Liquor bottles thrown all over the place
* Broken patches on the jogging track
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