Need for Independent agencies to check spaces
Open spaces are the need of the hour and citizens have a right to use them. The BMC’s more recent attempts to ensure that private participants develop the remaining 75 cent of the land is an eyewash and that the need of the hour is to ensure that there’s active checking by independent agencies coupled with a heightened sense of awareness among citizens to stop the rot as and when it occurs.
— ‘Aware’ individual Kishore Jagtiani
Each time you take that deep breath of fresh air, you may need to thank an alert citizen who has promptly moved the authorities into acting against a slum or a development that exceeded its brief and attempted to usurp a green space.
Like SoBo resident Kishore Jagtiani who prefers to call himself ‘aware’ rightly touches upon the core need of the hour when he says, “citizens need to be a lot more actively aware of what’s happening in their locality, even question the authorities and move the machinery to fulfill what is the need of the hour.”
It’s popularly perceived that given a choice, the private lobby in cohorts with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will utilise the open spaces policy and sell out the city and its resources robbing the citizen of his basics. So, to counter the view, the BMC is modifying the open spaces policy to “usher in more transparency and a greater say for citizen groups. These include giving financial concessions to citizen groups that apply for maintaining open spaces.”
In a viable suggestion, the civic body suggested a tendering process to decide who gets the open spaces. It is suggested that local citizen bodies get to maintain the plot even if they quote up to 10 per cent lower than the highest bidder.
Apparently, this is aimed to ensure even citizen bodies that can’t match private bids get the open spaces.
Yet another modification proposed regards the division of the plot under the ‘caretaker policy’ under which a private player gets to construct on 25 per cent of the plot, keeping the rest open to the public. This clause had earlier been misused by private players who abused this clause by usurping the entire plot and restricting public entry.
Now, to counter this, the proposed open spaces policy suggests the private party be told to develop and modify the 75 per cent open space after that would the private party be handed over the rest of the plot.
The BMC is also expected to charge the private player a premium for beautification and development of this open space and with the same funds, develop the plot itself. The BMC would also instruct the private player to fence off and separate the two areas leaving little chance of the plot being usurped.
What is needed more importantly here is a supervisory agency that’s independent and high in integrity to be able to satisfy the needs of the common man particularly his need to know that his rights are safe and intact.