Mumbai: Rs 25-crore craft village ready but not open for more than a year
The ambitious Shilpgram, set on seven acres of open space in Jogeshwari, is caught in red tape and remains unavailable to public; Sena man takes up issue with civic officials
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) delayed appointment of a manager is keeping Mumbaikars away from seeing and experiencing the city's version of Dilli Haat. The lush green, seven-acre open space named Matoshree Meenatai Thackeray Shilpgram, is located near the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. It has been sitting ready for over a year now.
Shilpgram has been developed in Poonam Nagar, Jogeshwari East, and construction work in the space was completed in June 2017. It was envisioned as Mumbai's first arts and crafts village, on the lines of the Dilli Haat. According to BMC officials, the work on garden was started in 2015. After initial hiccups like land problems and reservation issues in the Development Plan (DP), the project was completed in June 2017, which was also a year after its previous deadline.
mid-day visited the beautiful space, which contains fountains, gazebo, children's play area, amphitheatre, and shops that will sell authentic handicrafts. The park is full of murals of 'Bara Balutedar', which was a village servant system of 12 trades, like barbers, washers, potters, carpenters, etc.
Why is it shut?
However, locals are still clueless about why such a huge green space has not been opened for the public yet. Vishwanath Shetty of the Mahakali ALM Trust, that has been successfully maintaining a nearby garden for years said, "We have seen Shilpgram since the time of its inception. When the groundwork began, we never expected it to be so beautiful. It is ready now, but we don't understand what's causing the delay in opening it. For over a year now, the park is bathed in light at night, but nobody gets to see it. We're hoping authorities will open it soon for the public."
The park is full of murals of 'Bara Balutedar', which was a village servant system of 12 trades, like barbers, washers, potters, carpenters, etc
Mayor's unfulfilled promise
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar had also visited the space in February and praised it. He'd assured that it will be opened as soon as possible. But BMC has not made good on that promise. When mid-day spoke to officials from BMC's garden cell, which executed the work, they dilly dallied and avoided saying anything about the delay. Despite repeated attempts, deputy municipal commissioner and in-charge of the garden cell, Dr Kishor Kshirsagar remained unavailable for comment.
A source from BMC said, "Earlier, BMC had planned on appointing a third party to manage and operate Shilpgram, but that idea was dropped. Now, the civic body is trying to appoint a manager who will look after Shilpgram as it will also have commercial activity like handicraft shops. However, this process is moving at a snail's pace, which is causing the delay in opening."
Local Shiv Sena corporator Anant Nar blames the BMC administration for delaying the opening of the garden. A furious Nar said, "Since Shilpgram is not a garden, it needs expert management and a separate operations wing. I have been following this issue for a very long time." He alleged, "But, civic officials are reluctant to take any decision, which is delaying the opening. Initially, BMC rejected appointing any third-party agency for maintenance and told me that they'll appoint BMC staff. But, it has been over a year, and because of civic apathy, the public is yet to see the beautiful crafts village."
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A glimpse into Mumbai's first craft village