Mumbai: BMC in a hurry to restart toy train at unkempt Rajesh Khanna garden
Even as poor maintenance plagues the green open space in Santa Cruz, BMC shifts its focus elsewhere
The Rajesh Khanna garden in Santa Cruz is in a pitiful condition; yet, instead of first improving the basic infrastructure and facilities for visitors, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is focussing on restarting the toy train lying idle for the last one year in a shed on the premises. With several areas of the garden in need of urgent attention, those who took their kids there on Children's Day complained about the green space's poor maintenance since the BMC took charge of it in 2016.
The putrid odour coming from the toilets is one of the first things that will hit you when you enter the garden. While the door to the men's toilet is completely detached from the frame, the women's loo has no lights, and the toilet seats are in a disgusting state. Besides that, neither of the two drinking water fountains is functional, and most of the taps are broken, as are several lamps along the pathway. Also, all of the rainwater harvesting units have been scribbled on.
Frequent visitors, such as Kishan Paswan, 48, who brought his nephews to the garden, believe the problem lies with the adolescent boys from the neighbourhood, who vandalise the water fountains, toilets and other installations in the garden. "When the Raheja builders were maintaining the garden, it used to be in a far better condition, possibly because they charged an entry fee. Now, teenage boys from Murgan Chawl come here every day and do mischief. The BMC, too, should charge a fee... The toilet smells so bad that people avoid walking in front of it. What's one supposed to do if one wants to attend nature's call or needs drinking water?" he asked.
Paswan added that the play area needed some attention as well, as it proved inadequate on days when many children visited the park — it only has two swings and a small jungle gym. Other regular visitors said stationing two guards won't curb vandalism. Nathumal Khanvani, 67, a resident of 15th Road who visits the garden twice daily, said the teenagers are too unruly for two guards to handle.
"The guards sit in front of the gate instead of taking rounds. The teenagers come and damage things in the garden and even burst crackers. There needs to be an entry fee, and more guards, to deter them," he added. When asked about the toy train restarting, he wasn't too confident [of that happening]. "A few days ago, a mechanic was working on it but couldn't get it up and running. I don't have high hopes for the children," Khanvani said.
Civic officials said that while they don't have any record of the toy train, the first one was set up around a decade ago. It, however, broke down eight years ago and was left unattended. Later, the BMC constructed a new one at a cost of R50 lakh; it was inaugurated on Children's Day last year but shut down in a week owing to civic officials' inability to find an agency to operate it.
"We had floated a tender last year, but no bidders came forward. This year, however, we have five bidders; we will select one of them. They will charge a fee of R10 per child, and part of their collection will be given to the BMC. We are in the process of testing the train and hope to restart it in eight to 10 days," said an official from H-West ward office. When contacted, Sharad Ugade, assistant municipal commissioner of H-West ward, said action will be taken against the contractor responsible for the garden's maintenance.
"We will take local police's help to curb the nuisance caused by the teenagers. We will also ensure that the toilets and the drinking water fountains are better maintained," he assured.
Rs 50 lakh
Cost at which BMC constructed a new toy train
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