After an agonising eight-month wait, iconic S K Patil Udyan garden gates open, welcoming walkers thirsting for their green space
Supervisor Santosh Gaikwad points to creepers on redone walkway. Pic/Ashish Raje
The S K Patil Udyan at Maharshi Karve Road between Charni Road and Marine Lines, had a sole (pun intended) stirring moment on Tuesday evening. The garden, closed for an upgrade for more than eight months, opened its gates to the public. People can now use the walking path inside.
"This, though, is not the final inauguration" cautioned BJP corporator Rita Makwana, adding, "work is ongoing. The walking track is complete so we have opened it to the locals. Finishing touches are still to be given to certain parts and a formal opening is slated for May end after election results."
The smell of fresh poha assailed the nostrils. A 40-year-old eatery called Sakhi Kutumb is a landmark within this iconic green park. Sakhi Kutumb's workers were serving the snack to locals, many of whom had received invitations on their whatsapp groups for the walkway opening.
S Salunkhe, standing behind the counter, said, "Our loyalists used to come here even though the park was closed. Now, it will be back to business," she said as BJP's Asha M concurred when the all-women workforce said, "we may have lost a little business but the facelift was needed."
Vaishali Mayekar and Sandhya Jadhav, locals who used to walk in the park "in the mornings and evenings" are delighted it has re-opened. "We had to make do with walking in the lanes behind the park," they said, "It was not the same." Akash Purohit, son of BJP MLA Raj Purohit, said, "People can approach us if they have any suggestions. From early reactions, they seem to be happy and excited."
Makwana interjected that, "seating has been created for senior citizens, who had asked for it. We have two gazebos now. The toilets inside the park have been redone and there is one for the disabled, too."
Not everybody's mood was as sunny as the poha they were digging into, though. Haresh Gohil resident from near C P Tank was irked that the park was closed for so many months. "This is the only garden in the area; they should have kept a part of it open for the public. That is the way things were done under Congress rule." Gohil's political statement irked a BJP worker who claimed, "The park was closed because during work we saw that people were filching fittings and other equipment, even soil from the garden was taken," he said dramatically, while Gohil hotly contested this.
Supervisor Santosh Gaikwad pointed towards a new skating rink for children. The amphitheatre, next to a study centre, which is also part of the park, was being worked on. There is a new mural on a huge wall alongside, "it has a 3-D effect," said Gaikwad, who walked this reporter through the garden pointing to a new drinking water fountain.
Colaba resident Adi Daruwalla who was at the garden said, "this is the biggest garden in the vicinity and the opening of the walkway is certainly momentous. See the zing all around," said Daruwalla, as three sprightly silver-haired gentlemen quaffed down, 'kokum sharbat' offered to the guests. Makwana said, "Maintenance is a concern. This garden has three gates and because of its access to the main road, needs extensive security. We have a problem with vagrants, and, littering is a worry. We are going to have a game plan to tackle these," she finished.