The ruling partners in the civic body , the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday came out with a temporary open spaces policy under which it won’t take back 90 gardens and plots that are controlled by political heavyweights, as was earlier planned.
The decision comes even as citizen activists and Congress city chief Sanjay Nirupam demanded that these plots be taken back for the good of the city, just a day before in their meeting with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Under this policy, for the remaining 126 plots that were taken back from organisations earlier this year, a committee of three civic officials will decide if those organisations can once again maintain the gardens or if they will be retained by the civic body.
The decision will be taken according to the guidelines that include non-discriminatory access, free-of-charge entry and adherence to timings decided by the BMC, no commercial or political activities and a board with the BMC logo.
If an organisation or a caretaker wishes to maintain the gardens/plots taken from them, it will have to send an application to the civic body for the same.
According to the policy, this agreement will be in effect for 11 months or till the policy is approved — whichever happens first. “We will also inspect the 90 gardens/plots which were not taken back to check if any of them is flouting guidelines. In that case, the plots will be taken back,” said a senior civic official on condition of anonymity
However, sources claim that this policy is the civic body’s face saver and it is unlikely that any new policy will come into effect before next year’s election, as some of these 90 plots are under the control of the political bigwigs from the ruling Shiv Sena and BJP.
This temporary policy will be placed before a group leader meeting for approval. The policy comes after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis changed the government stance and said it was fine for the BMC to hand over the plots to private organisations.
The change of stance came six months after ordering the BMC to take back 216 open spaces, that had been ‘adopted’ by private organisations. Currently, 126 plots have been taken back in various phases and about 90 still remain to be returned.
The 90 plots together account for around 80 lakh square feet of open spaces in the city.