Mumbai: mid-day Garden Audit helps revive Kurla park

Aug 13, 2018, 07:25 IST | Suyash Karangutkar

mid-day impact: After it was audited by this paper and locals expressed their views in front of officials at our round table, civic body sets about fixing Eknath Koparde garden; more to follow

Mumbai: mid-day Garden Audit helps revive Kurla park
Before, the unkempt park was a hideaway for drunkards and druggies

“I still remember coming here with my wife and grandchildren. The kids would run on the lawn, while my wife and I would chat on the park benches,” said Bhagwan Singh, 69, as he cautiously entered Eknath Koparde garden after a gap of several years. Like so many others, Singh had stopped going there after poor maintenance turned the park into a deathtrap.

Now, the weeds and anti-social elements have been cleared out
Now, the weeds and anti-social elements have been cleared out

“Thanks to poor upkeep, the garden changed before our eyes. A few years ago, people stopped coming to the park, fearing it was haunted,” recalled Singh. Others were more afraid of drunkards and addicts who would hide in the overgrown shrubbery. The lack of night lamps and broken boundary wall made it even less inviting. With the park’s gazebo crumbling and most of the benches broken, there was no place for children and senior citizens to rest even if they dared to visit in the daytime.

These were the issues Singh raised at mid-day’s Garden Audit Round Table last month, when top BMC officials finally promised to redevelop the Kurla garden. “I had lived in fear for many years, but when I saw that the paper was raising the issue, I felt it was my duty as a citizen to join in,” said the senior citizen.

Better already
Singh and the other residents of Kurla can now look forward to a new and improved avatar of the garden. mid-day stopped by at the park over the weekend, and found several changes already in progress. The abandoned auto rickshaw blocking the entrance had been removed. Inside, the jogging track and lawn were neater and better maintained.

Bhagwan Singh at Eknath Koparde garden. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Bhagwan Singh at Eknath Koparde garden. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

There is, of course, so much more that needs to be done. Lamp posts are still absent, and although this paper found no vagrants at the park, we discovered two alcohol bottles in a corner.

Officialspeak
On Saturday, Ranjeet Nalge, assistant superintendent of gardens, L ward, told this paper that the larger repairs and redevelopment work would begin in October. “Currently, our estimation process is underway. Tenders will be leased by the next month. By October, the work will begin,” he said, adding, “Currently, we are focused on keeping the garden green, clean and tidy.”

While repairs will begin in October, workers are already sprucing up the park
While repairs will begin in October, workers are already sprucing up the park

The official further added that there were plans to build bio-toilets for visitors, another suggestion made by Singh at the Round Table.As for the broken wall, Nalge said a special design would be formulated to erect it properly. “The retaining wall at the back and the gazebo inside are the two bigger issues that we are working on. Since the garden is on a hill, sliding of the wall is a possibility,” he said.

Locals thrilled
Thanking mid-day for its initiative, local lawyer Sachin Prajapati said, “ I am happy the BMC has finally made a plan and is preparing to work on the garden.” Deepal Kalbhor, 61, said, “Thanks to mid-day, the authorities at least realised that the place needed restoration. I cannot wait to take my grandkids and wife back.”

Extended timings
It was at mid-day’s Round Table in July that top Corporation officials had promised to work towards keeping city gardens open till 9 pm (‘We can keep gardens open from
6 am to 9 pm’, July 26). They are now mulling on keeping the gates open as late as 11 pm.

2003
Year in which Eknath Koparde Garden was developed in Kurla

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Mid-day Garden Audit 2018: BMC bows to citizens' demands to keep parks open from 6 am to 9 pm

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