Children and their parents will now be able to enjoy boating in the heart of the city after the Bombay High Court has cleared the decks for boat ride in a garden at Borivli. The boating was stayed in the Veer Savarkar Udyan at Borivli following a public interest litigation (PIL) by a local resident alleging illegal and unauthorised construction on the plot reserved for public garden.
A public interest litigation was filed by a Borivli resident Meera Kamath alleging that certain officers of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had illegally given a plot of land to Poinsar Gymkhana for developing it despite the plot being reserved for public garden.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice VM Kanade while disposing off the PIL observed that there was nothing irregular in the allotment procedure to the Gymkhana. "If value added service is provided to public at little cost then what is the problem," questioned Justice Gokhale.
Gopal Shetty, who is a member of the Poinsar Gymkhana, had developed the plot by carrying out construction for amusement park apart from developing a small garden. The PIL alleged that lot of construction work has been carried out in the plot for boat jetty, amphitheater, skating ring, DJ corner, food court, mini train, stage, go carting and activity plaza.
Counsel for Kamath argued that the plot was reserved as open ground to develop it as a public garden for everyone. However, by developing it as a mini amusement park, the management of Veer Savarkar Udyan were charging entry fee from the public. "Apart from that separate fees were charged for skating ring, boating and other activities," argued the counsel.
Common man is being starved of the deserved open space allotted in the development plan. The plot should be developed as a proper garden with free access to public, states the PIL.
Niteen Pradhan, counsel for the Gymkhana argued that they charge only Rs 2 as entrance fees. "For Rs 2, person entering the garden can view a movie in the television space in there or even skate. There was no additional cost for that," he said.
The BMC had given the plot to Gymkhana after the latter showed interest in adopting the 25,395 square meter plot for developing it. The BMC guidelines permit the developer charge entry fee upto Rs 5 for spending Rs 1 crore on the development of the plot. "Here the Gymkhana has raised and spent nearly Rs 3 crore on its development. Besides the money collected from public would be used for maintenance and development of the park only," argued Pradhan.
The PIL was filed in July 2006, whereas the development work had commenced in 2004 itself. The plot which was virtually used as a dumping ground has been developed into a park which can be used by the public for a small entry fee.
After the PIL was filed, the HC had stayed the boating, however on February 15 the HC has permitted that the boating can be started by charging additional modest fees for the boat ride. However, there will be not additional charges for other activities.
Gopal Shetty told HT that since they have got a go ahead form the HC they start the boating in appropriate time.