mid-day Garden Audit: Hanging Garden suffers at the hands of picnicking families
Regular walkers and joggers say the place becomes a dump on Sundays due to people leaving behind their food packets and other waste, in spite of a rule that bars eating on the premises
The heritage Pherozshah Mehta Garden, popularly called Hanging Garden, is a spot of great beauty and greenery, perched atop Malabar Hill in South Mumbai. Complete with a jogging circuit, exercise spots, a resting area, and benches, the garden has, since time immemorial, been the haunt of a majority of Malabar Hill residents, who point out that even though they might not know each other's names, they have, over a period of time, become like a sort of community that makes the most of the green space.
The weekend woe
However, the garden has its fair share of problems too. The biggest menace is visitors, especially families, lacking civic sense, thronging the place on weekends for picnics.
"People eat breakfast inside on Sundays and leave all their waste behind," said Bharati Gautam Gandhi, a Malabar Hill resident, who comes here for her morning walk daily. "Dustbins are overflowing with garbage, and the entire place looks dirty." Even the garden's toilets are filthy and unsanitary, thus deterring people from using them. One resident described them as "being worse than the toilets at a bus stand".
Queuing up for water
Another regular is Mukesh Gupta, who shared some of its other shortcomings. "The path is muddy, unlike the one at Kamla Nehru Park, making it bumpy to walk or jog on. Also, having just one water cooler with two taps for this huge garden is woefully insufficient for the large number of visitors. One can often see long queues of people, standing just for a sip of water on a hot day," he said.
Other visitors complained about the hard surface of benches, as well as the lack of disabled-friendly equipment, such as wheelchairs, which could be used by senior citizens who come here.
According to local BJP corporator Jyotshna Mehta, the main problem with maintaining the garden is the lack of funds. "We should not charge everyone, but we should at least take some fee from the tourists who visit," she said, adding, "This will help us in getting funds to maintain the garden properly on an everyday basis.
"There is also development work of the bathrooms that is scheduled to take place, but this will need to be done carefully after the monsoon, keeping in mind the water reservoir that lies beneath."
a Malabar Hill resident
'I like that the space is very open and fancy and maintained well by the authorities. Over the years, it has become a routine to come and meet our friends here in the morning before we start our day. But Sunday is the real problem...'
a regular visitor
'We have a nice set of people coming here regularly; we might not know each other's names, but we are familiar with faces and smile at each other. The basic infrastructure here is good, but there are a few things that can be worked on. The toilets here are worse than those at bus stands. We could also do with some good quality benches, as the present ones are not very comfortable'
* Garbage strewn everywhere
* Lax enforcing of rules
* Insufficient water coolers
* Pathetic condition of toilets
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