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Friday, October 21, 2011
By Vishnudas Sheshrao

NGOs force civic body to nix lease/caretaking of our gardens

Armed with a singular agenda, city based NGOs and various citizen groups unanimously objected to new Open Space Policy proposed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and suggested other plans to maintain open spaces and gardens with the help of corporate firms, while underlining that the ownership of the land ‘should be’ with the civic body.

The citizens’groups objected to the Adoption Policy and Care Taking Policy proposed by the BMC to develop and maintain gardens, recreation grounds and playgrounds in the city by citing examples of owners who slowly took control of the grounds, undertook cement constructions on the said space and exploited the local populace by charging entry and other fees.

Earlier, the BMC had requested people to send suggestions and objections regarding the proposed Open Space Policy. The representatives of more than 20 NGOs came out with their suggestions/objections regarding the proposed new Open Space Policy yesterday. In a unified agenda, the citizen’s groups strongly objected to the proposed Open Space Policy and demanded that it be scrapped.

There were two options listed under the proposal – Adoption Policy and Care Taking Policy. Activist G.R.Vora said, “We have had experience with both policies earlier and the results are sad. Caretakers are exploiting the situation to gain huge sums of money and are lending open spaces for social programmes, collecting money for them.”

“Above all, in both cases, the adopter or caretaker lays claims on the land. Consequently, the city loses that open space forever,” added Vora.

Sherley Joseph Singh, Chairperson of ITFA, proposed a new lucrative option. She said, “We will request corporate offices to develop and maintain open spaces in the city as part of their corporate-social responsibility (CSR). Besides, we will give them small vertical space to place advertisements so that they can make a profit while benefiting society. Several companies have expressed willingness to participate. In this case, the ownership of the land will remain with the civic body.”

Santosh Awatramani of Mumbai 227 lent his support to the idea. “Under the new proposed civic policy, the city would lose open spaces, while in the NGO suggested police, the ownership of land will remain with the BMC. So, we must support the new suggestion, at least for one year. We continue with it only if it works,” said Awatramani.

Activist Cynthia Fernandes said, “We unanimously objected to civic proposed policy and suggested another option.”

Additional Municipal Commissioner, Aseem Gupta, who presided over the hearing, said, “We will consider all the suggestions and objections that have been put forth before us.”

  • 60 gardens
  • 30 year contract
  • Pure CSR at work


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