Why is it that Delhi can develop affordable recreational facilities while Mumbai, despite a civic budget of Rs 19,000 crore, has none?
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), a land-holding and development agency, has over the last two decades built 14 public sports complexes.
The city boasts of 39 city-run gymnasiums, 26 playgrounds, 13 swimming pools and two golf courses, open to all. Life membership costs Rs 10,000, while non-members pay an entry fee of Rs 40 and between Rs 25 and Rs 1,200 a month for the facilities they use.
DDA spent Rs 100 crore to Rs 250 crore to build each of its sports complexes, using its own land, and pumping in Rs 40
crore a year on maintenance.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on the other hand, spent a total of Rs 748 crore over the last three years to develop and maintain gardens. No money has been allotted for Delhi-like public recreational facilities.
The BMC, instead of attempting to replicate Delhi’s success, wants to give away 49 open spaces to private parties. The BMC fears these spaces will be encroached upon otherwise.
Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak defends the BMC: “DDA is a land-holding authority; it does not have to run a city like us. It’s not as if we haven’t done anything. We have provided for swimming pools before and are doing our best.”
The BMC runs seven swimming pools, which charge Rs 200 a month, and many of them are shut for maintenance.
“Also, New Delhi has much more open space. It does not have a slum problem either. Delhi is a planned city, so there cannot be any comparison with Mumbai,” Phatak added.