Mumbai's first garden under Matunga flyover is locked in Sena-Congress war

May 30, 2016, 09:18 IST | Shashank Rao

Two months after completion, Matunga park remains shut over ribbon cutting row. Both Shiv Sena and Congress are bickering over who will get to inaugurate the 700-metre garden and jogging track

In a city choking with traffic and pollution, people rejoiced when they heard Mumbai was going to get its very first garden under a flyover in Matunga. However, citizens who were hoping to enjoy this novel park this summer were in for disappointment, as the project remains stuck in political warfare. Even though the park is ready to be launched, the Shiv Sena and Congress are bickering over who will get to inaugurate it and take all the credit.

Also read - Mumbai: Cong-Sena clash over garden leaves development in limbo

The garden is nearly ready and both the Sena and Congress said they intend to launch it by next week. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The garden is nearly ready and both the Sena and Congress said they intend to launch it by next week. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

mid-day had reported on May 10 last year that a 700-metre-long garden with jogging track was going to be built under the Tulpule flyover on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road (between the King’s Circle and Ruia College traffic signals). Work had stalled in the past 3-4 months, and tiles, heaps of mud and plants were scattered there. However, the garden is finally complete and ready to be launched — all that remains to be done is connecting the lights and other electrical fixtures.

But now, the park is locked in a battle between Sena and Congress, as both intend to claim credit for its completion. The issue began a few days ago, when the BMC house leader, Trushna Vishwasrao (Sena) visited the park to check on its progress. She told mid-day that she had been asked to do so by MP Rahul Shewale, who was chairman of the standing committee when the project proposal was passed in 2013-14.

However, this visit was not appreciated by the local Congress corporator Nayna Seth, who saw it as an attempt by Sena to hijack the project and steal all the credit.

“I have been following the development of this garden since 2012. What Trushna did was wrong; she had no business inspecting the garden,” she told mid-day.

Under dispute
Trushna admitted that the two of them had spoken about this dispute, and added, “I went there after a request made by MP Shewale. Besides, I am the leader of the house. Earlier, they had named the flyover without even letting the Mayor know about it. This time, we will ensure that the Mayor inaugurates the park. We will print proper invitation cards and Nayna Seth will be welcome. We are looking at inaugurating it by the first week of June.”

On the other hand, Nayna said that she would be the one to inaugurate the park. She added that she will also invite the Mayor, but only to watch. “It is the local corporator who has the right to inaugurate projects and I shall do that by the first week of June and then hand it over to the BMC, for which I will also invite the Mayor. The Shiv Sena should not hijack the project, or we will protest,” she said.

As the two
corporators row over the garden, locals complain that the Rs 5-crore garden was supposed to open for children during the summer vacation, which is now almost over. Moreover, they have pointed out a couple of flaws with the garden’s design as well.

Jogging track
The jogging track in the garden was designed with a meandering path to make it look like the Narmada river.

Locals said that this winding path will make it difficult for joggers. They also pointed out that the track was at a lower level than the surrounding flowerbeds, so every time the plants are watered, soil and water will trickle onto the path.

“The track should have been on higher ground. The water could make the tiles slippery and people might fall,” said a local resident.

Trushna passed on these complaints to the contractor, as well as locals’ demand for an additional gate to be installed at the garden.

Local residents pointed out that the garden currently has two gates — on either side, so people can cross to the other side of the flyover — but these are not enough for a garden of this size.

“I have also asked the contractor to finish off the pending electrical work so that the garden can be opened soon,” said Trushna.

>> The garden was built at a cost of over Rs 5 crore

>> It houses several ornamental and flowering plants, as well palm plantations to resemble the coastline

>> The park will have granite seats with a capacity for 500 visitors, as well as sandstone steps for additional seating

>> Apart from the jogging track, a walking path has also been made, along with wooden bridges

>> The park will also feature a sand sculpture, a stage area and bamboo clusters

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