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Mumbai: ‘Make details of open spaces deals public’

Updated on: 21 September,2023 07:36 AM IST  |  Mumbai
A Correspondent |

As guardian minister Lodha races to find common ground,activists demand that agreements for all the 53 plots given away under adoption policy be revealed

Mumbai: ‘Make details of open spaces deals public’

The BMC has published a list of 53 grounds which have been given to private players. Representation pic/Shadab Khan

Activists have now demanded that the BMC make public the first and current agreements of all 53 plots given to private parties under the caretaker policy. Former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and RTI activists Anil Galgali, Sharad Wagle (remove comma) and Ashok Doshi wrote an email on September 18 to Mangal Prabhat Lodha making this demand, seeking the information be made public.

The group of civic and Right to Information activists are against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) draft Recreation and Playground Adoption Policy (RG-PG). On September 15, Lodha conducted a meeting of BMC officials and citizens regarding the RG-PG policy. He suggested that BMC officials publish a list of plots given under the caretaker policy. The BMC then published a list of 53 grounds which have been given to private players. Gandhi, Galgali, Wagle and Doshi have sent the email to Lodha demanding that BMC also publish the first and current agreements with these private players.

Open spaces are prized in a city starved of them. File pic/Atul Kamble
Open spaces are prized in a city starved of them. File pic/Atul Kamble

During the meeting, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Kishore Gandhi had said that the RG-PG policy was not going to apply to gardens. He claimed that there was a need to create training facilities for certain sports which would require large investments and technical expertise. But this was not clear in the proposed policy. The activists had submitted written suggestions about the issue to the BMC. Later they also wrote an email to civic chief I S Chahal and demanded that BMC maintain all grounds on its own.

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Gandhi claims BMC is arguing that they don’t have funds to create training facilities for certain sports, but the civic budget is over Rs 50,000 crore and the open spaces will not cost more than about Rs 400 crore. BMC also claims that they cannot maintain and supervise the open spaces. To this, the activists have written, “There may be some truth in this and a candid admission of its capabilities. A very simple solution is to hand over the maintenance to contractors. The audit of these plots could be entrusted to the same institutions interested in ‘adopting’ these spaces. 

In that case, no legal rights are created, nor are they put in the possession of the private party. If an institution wants to really do service and maintain these grounds, it would happily do this if its intentions were not malafide. This could also be done by many NGOs.” It is also pointed out in the letter that about eight years back then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had ordered that all open spaces given on caretaker or adoption basis be taken back. Despite this BMC has been unable to take back many.

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