In an admission that it cannot take care of neighbourhood parks, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has decided to hand over the charge to those who can — the residents.
In a series of special stories published last week, Hindustan Times had highlighted the poor condition of most neighbourhood parks in the Capital, misuse of funds for parks by the MCD and their usage as wedding venues and parking lots.
The best neighbourhood parks in the city turned out to be those maintained by the residents themselves.
Under the new programme, the civic body is handing over the maintenance of city parks to local Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and NGOs.
“We want the city to look greener and beautiful and this initiative is a small step in that direction. Either the MCD or the agency in charge of maintenance of the parks would also provide gardeners,” said Mayor Kanwar Sain.
Besides, the civic body will give Rs 6,000 per acre for maintenance and hiring of gardeners. Electricity and water supply will be free of cost, the Mayor said.
On Tuesday, the civic agency took the first step in this direction and gave cheques amounting to Rs 4,72,817 to 17 RWAs and two NGOs for maintenance of 132 parks.
Till now the perks were being looked after by the MCD.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj handed over the cheques.
“The government alone can’t provide effective civic services until and unless residents of the particular area participate in development works. The MCD should also organise competition of RWAs and award those with outstanding performance,” said Swaraj.
Pawan Arora, chairman of Lajpat Nagar United Forum, said, “It’s a good move and with water and power for the parks made free, it’s going to be of great help.”
“We are maintaining the colony parks ourselves but with MCD providing some funds, there will be less burden on the residents.”
Arora said though Rs 6,000 per acre is not a big amount and not enough to employ more than one gardener, “at least something is better than nothing”.
This isn’t the first attempt by the civic body towards maintenance of the green lungs of the city.
In the earlier plans, there were no proposals of paying the RWAs in advance. The residents’ associations feared that the promised Rs 60,000 per acre per year for maintenance of the parks would not be given later.
The RWAs were also expected to pay for water provided through tube wells and electricity bills from their own pockets. Naturally the plans didn’t work.
“This time it is definitely a move in the right direction. But it should be done in a fair and transparent manner and not left to discretion of local councillors,” said Pankaj Agarwal of Delhi RWAs Joint Front.