In yet another goof-up, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants your children to play at traffic islands, parking lots and in Raj Bhavan, the governor’s residence.
That is possibly why the BMC has, in its proposed development plan (DP), marked all these spaces, barely accessed by pedestrians, as ‘public open spaces’.
These spaces are two traffic islands in Nariman Point — one outside the Life Insurance Corporation head-office and the other opposite Samrat Restaurant — the Wellington Fountain circle, used as a parking lot outside Regal Cinema, and parts of Raj Bhavan.
While the two traffic islands have been identified as ‘playgrounds’, the parking lot outside Regal and the Raj Bhavan have been classified as ‘recreational ground’ (RG). Strangely, the Gateway of India, a heritage structure, has been marked as an RG.
The classification is likely to invite more opprobrium to the BMC. Firstly, none of these areas are open spaces. Some, like the traffic islands and Raj Bhavan, are out of bounds for citizens. In others, like the Wellington Fountain and the Gateway of India, it is debatable whether they are open, green spaces at all.
Such classification has given rise to fears that the BMC’s DP maps could be riddled with more errors.
It is not clear whether the classification was intentional. Nonetheless, the incorrect identification will artificially inflate the number of open spaces, helping the BMC to show on paper how the city has enough green spaces.
The BMC refused to come on record with their response to HT’s queries.
The city suffers a crippling shortage of accessible, public open spaces. While New York’s ratio is 26 square metres per person, Singapore’s is 7.5 square metres per capita. On the other hand, Mumbai has little over 1 square metre open space per person. In the DP, the BMC has stated its aim to be 4 square metres per capita.
Activists believe that this sleight of hand over statistics is the reason behind the classification.
“They are juggling with statistics to show that they have reached the figure of 4 square metres. Plots which are open and accessible to all must be marked as public open spaces,” said an activist, who did not wish to be named.