mid-day Garden Audit: Santacruz's Muktanand Garden has gone downhill since BMC took over
In the second of our garden audit series, the story of how Santacruz's Muktanand Garden became decrepit in just a matter of months
Muktanand Garden in Santacruz West has fallen into disrepair in BMC's hands, allege locals. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
A quaint lane from the bustling Linking Road in Santacruz brings one to Saraswat Colony, where for over a decade, Brahma Kumaris nurtured the picturesque Muktanand Garden. However, the fairy tale ended last September, when the civic body took over. And thence began a cycle of neglect, leading to a state of disrepair, allege locals.
On the surface, the garden looks nothing short of a haven from the pollution and noise outside. But it is only on exploring its nooks and crannies that one comes across the gaping holes that need to be filled to make it the relaxing refuge it should be for citizens.
The can of worms
When mid-day visited the garden on a busy Thursday morning, it was abuzz with locals on their morning walks and children hopping around in their play area.
Collegian Rishikesh Dubey, who frequents the park to catch up on reading, only had praise for it. "This place has a lot of positive energy. One can sit here peacefully, listening to the chirping of birds and breathing in fresh air," he said.
However, 57-year-old Amit Shah, another regular visitor, cracked open the can of worms. "Peace aside, look at the state of toilets here — utterly filthy. Also, the jogging track isn't in the best of state. It gets dirty when it rains and no one bothers to clear the mud later," he said. Seconding Shah, octogenarian Shankar Khatwani, a regular in the park since 2002, said, "The track is littered with crow droppings. Earlier, it used to be cleaned regularly, but now, no one pays attention to its maintenance."
The big three
mid-day saw that Shah's evaluation of the toilets was accurate — not cleaned and left in an unsanitary state with excess water all over the floor. And the wash basins had become home for algae.
Aside from lax security, unclean, broken and missing play equipment is among the big problems in the garden in Santacruz West. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Visitors also complained about the lack of a drinking water facility. Sales executive Baharul Mondal, 24, said, "A filter or tank would be a welcome respite, considering the footfall and the fact that many senior citizens and children frequent the place regularly." In the play area, it's no swings attached — the bars stand tall but the hooks are empty. Moreover, some other play equipment, too, has caught rust and poses a risk to kids.
Twelve-year-old Mehek Shaikh said, "There are not many rides here. They should introduce more." "The garden was opened when my husband was the corporator. It was very well maintained when we were in power. Now that the BMC has taken over, I am not aware," said Geeta Chavan, former MNS corporator, who is presently with the Shiv Sena.
The local BJP corporator from H-west ward, Alka Kelkar, said, "We have installed a water cooler in the garden and commenced pre-monsoon trimming of trees. The work on swings and cleaning of benches has also started. The garden will be given a new look soon."
A slice of history
Residents from the area who frequent the garden told mid-day that before Brahma Kumaris took over the park, it was not properly developed. "It was a barren piece of land," said a senior citizen. August 1, 2002, onwards, however, a group of Brahma Kumaris from Santacruz West took charge of the garden's development and maintenance. Apart from leveling the land and planting grass, they also beautified it.
- Filthy toilets
- No drinking water facility
- Trees left untrimmed
- No swings
- Poor overall maintenance
- Lax security
- No shelter provision in case of rains
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