`18 lakh for garden benches, light poles

Rs 30,000 for a ‘VIP bench’. Rs 18,000 for a light pole. This is how much the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to spend on accessories to beautify the Five Gardens at the Dadar Parsi Colony.

Activist Nikhil Desai’s application under the Right To Information Act for the cost break-up of the beautification project has revealed how the BMC plans to spend Rs18 lakh on what it calls ‘VIP benches’ and light poles alone, with Rs10 lakh set aside for 32 benches in just one of the five gardens.

Some of the benches and one light pole have already been installed. Citizens feel the expenditure is wasteful.

“The fact that the BMC is spending Rs10 lakh for wood and cast iron benches in one garden alone is outrageous,” Desai said. “The cement concrete benches that the BMC had installed in the other gardens many years ago are still intact and very comfortable. What’s the point of such an expenditure?”

Local residents say the BMC should have consulted them before making such plans. Activist Dr Rustom Soonawala said: “The BMC showed us the plan for the garden but never told us how much it would cost. Frankly, the benches don’t look worth Rs30,000.”

Residents feel that the expenditure is pointless because gardens are often vandalised.

“The benches don’t look like they will last long, considering that they could be vandalised in a night. Also, these benches are smaller and can barely accommodate three people,” said Siloo Marker, a resident of the Parsi colony.

Dr Soonawala said the new benches will require constant maintenance.

Assistant municipal commissioner, F North ward, Sanjay Kurhade, justified the expenditure. “All the expenditure has been approved and even the rates have been approved. Five Gardens needs to be developed well so that it is an attraction for the entire city, and not just local residents,” he said.

A civil works contractor, who has closely worked on BMC gardens, said Rs30,000 for a single bench was an “exaggerated” cost. “There are cheaper alternatives that the BMC could have gone for.”   Locals are determined to oppose the BMC’s decision to spend so much this money.


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