After a long delay fraught with controversy, the revamp of the Five Gardens area has finally been completed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The Rs 5 crore-project involved the beautification and renovation of the gardens, restoration of a water fountain, installation of more benches for senior citizens and addition of play equipment in the children’s park.
Improvement of basic amenities in and around the garden premises, such as replacement of old storm water drains, repair of drinking water facilities and footpaths has also been completed. The renovated gardens were inaugurated by Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and mayor Snehal Ambekar on Sunday.
Mancherji Joshi Five Gardens, which is now a grade-IIA heritage precinct, was built more than 80 years ago on Lady Jehangir Road in Matunga (East). Its renovation was first proposed eight years ago, but started only in January 2013.
Residents’ associations and local activists had opposed some aspects of the project, such as construction of a skywalk, a food court and even a gazebo in one of the five gardens, all part of successive plans prepared by the BMC that subsequently fell through. The plan for the revamp was re-drafted three times in the past eight years.
Zarine Engineer, granddaughter of Mancherji Joshi, who planned the gardens and after whom they are named, said: “They had planned to build a food court after hacking off many 50 and 100-year-old trees. We fought tooth and nail to ensure the open space and the greenery remained intact.”
Engineer, who is also a member of the Mancherji Joshi Colony Residents’ Association, said members were in continuous correspondence with the BMC, to keep tabs on the project.
Nikhil Desai, member of the Citizens’ Forum F North ward, said: “We have welcomed some aspects such as raising the level of the playground to avoid flooding, changing cobblestone walkways for smoother walks and installation of automatic sprinkler systems in two of the gardens.”
He, however, said the children’s park was heavily concretised, which could have been avoided.