mid-day Garden audit: Colaba Woods garden is green but lacks basic amenities
One of the largest gardens in South Mumbai, it is blessed with eternal greenery, but basic amenities, such as a functioning water cooler, clean toilets, and proper benches, are missing
Over the last 25 years, the Colaba Woods garden, located near Taj President hotel in South Mumbai, has undergone quite the metamorphosis — from being just a plain patch of ground in the late 80s, when the Tata Electric Company took over the plot, to boasting a wide variety of flora, fauna and greenery today.
Equipped with gym equipment, a jogging circuit, and open spaces for yoga, Colaba Woods seems to have it all, including a lush green patch of near forest-like cover that spreads all across the garden. But all's not well at this outwardly perfect place. Murli Wadhwa, 74, who has been coming here since 1988, said, "Earlier, it was owned by the Tatas and was in a very good shape. Now also, the greenery is unlike anywhere else. But ever since the civic body took charge of its maintenance, issues have been cropping up one by one."
For starters, among the 803 trees, of as many as 99 different species, that are available here, some have large barks and stems. Before the monsoon set in, these barks and branches were trimmed by municipal authorities to avoid accidents or injuries; but all the cut wood has been left piled up in heaps along the periphery of the jogging path. Then, in particular spots, especially near the main entrance, most of the benches, which are meant for senior citizens and citizens tired from a workout to rest on, are dilapidated and crumbling to pieces.
High and dry
Aside from this, the only water cooler in the entire garden, having two taps, has been non-functional, leaving people with no choice but to either carry a bottle of water with them or cross the main road outside and go buy one. Finally, the biggest problem that seems to be bothering residents and joggers is of the two bathrooms located on the premises — neither is used by anyone because of the stench it emanates and the filthy condition it is in, day in and day out.
Local BJP corporator Harshita Narvekar said, "Three to four palm trees were cut recently; I had complained to authorities from the residents' side that the wood residue had been left on the path. If it hasn't been cleaned up yet, I will direct the officials concerned to do so. I wasn't aware about the defunct water cooler because I haven't visited the garden in two-three months, but I will tell the garden department to look into it at the earliest. "Footfall at the garden is not as much as it was because the Metro work has cordoned it off from all sides. Now, residents have to go around the barricades, so it becomes difficult for them."
Area of the garden in sqm
Average number of visitors the garden gets daily
Colaba Woods garden, Cuffe Parade
A lush forest-like area, the Colaba Woods garden is a serenely beautiful wooded green space in a neighbourhood of skyscrapers. Back in the early 1980s, the Tata Electric Company took over an eight-acre plot of land from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and named it Colaba Woods, which, at the time, was nothing more than a dump. It is one of the oldest open spaces in the area, and even won the Urban Heritage Award in 1989.
- Broken benches
- Cut wood from pruned trees lying around
- Non-functional water cooler
- Filthy and stinking toilets
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Naresh Saraf, a regular visitor
'Having a clean toilet is a basic; it is a big problem that the only toilets in this garden cannot be used because they are so dirty. Ever since the BMC took over this place's maintenance, a little over two years back, problems have been increasing'
S M Jhalan, a resident
'The water cooler has not been working for a while now. But earlier, when it used to work, labourers working at the Metro construction site outside would queue up for a drink, not leaving much for the regular visitors. We are very lucky to have such a garden here, but these niggling issues must be resolved at the earliest'
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