There is good news in store for citizen groups who have been campaigning to save the remaining open spaces in the city.
After three years of strong political opposition to its proposal on the need for a policy on open spaces, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now planning to formulate a separate policy to allow adoption of these spaces by citizen groups.
In September 2010, Hindustan Times had reported about the civic body’s proposed open spaces policy. Since then, there has been little headway in the policy. Citizens and activists maintained that a delay in finalising a policy has meant that the city has lost out on many open spaces that could have been adopted by citizen groups and hence, maintained well.
Confirming this, additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “Reaching a consensus, especially among politicians, on the caretaker scheme of the open spaces policy is proving to be tedious. Hence, we are planning to de-link adoption and caretaker policies and instead introduce a separate policy for only adoption.”
Once the policy is implemented, citizens, citizen groups and even non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be able to take up plots measuring less than 15,000 square metres and maintain them. The plots will be handed over only to those citizen groups that are working in a locality and they will be allowed to maintain it for five years, without constructing anything other than a cabin for a security guard on it.
Dr Ram Barot, chairman of the civic improvements committee, where the proposed open spaces policy has been stuck for more than a year now, said, “To ensure that citizen groups get a chance to maintain the plots, we will soon formulate a separate policy. The provisions of adoption, however, will be the same as the proposed policy.”
Gupta said that the civic administration would soon start working on the policy, without specifying a timeline.
This move spells hope for people such as Prakash Padikkal, the president of Hill side residents association, Mulund. “We have written to BMC several times over the past two-and-a-half years to let us adopt a local plot, but there has been no response. Hopefully, they will not dismiss us anymore,” said Padikkal.