AGNI wants to join Citispace in fight for open spaces | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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AGNI wants to join Citispace in fight for open spaces

The non-governmental organisation, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), wants to be a part of the battle to save the city’s open spaces.

mumbai Updated: Dec 27, 2010 01:38 IST
Urvi Mahajani

The non-governmental organisation, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), wants to be a part of the battle to save the city’s open spaces.

AGNI filed an application in the Bombay high court last week, through its vice chairman and the managing trustee, DM Sukthankar, seeking that it be added as a petitioner in the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Citispace in 2002 to save open spaces.

AGNI’s lawyer told the court that Citispace activists, Neera Punj and Nayana Kathpalia, approached them.

“After the attacks on their lives and repeated threats, the two ladies approached us for help to ensure that the cause is pursued in case of any untoward incident,” Mohan Jaykar, advocate for AGNI, said.

On January 8, 2010, two men fired shots outside Kathpalia’s Churchgate home. She later received threats that her family would suffer if she did not withdraw the PIL, AGNI’s application said.

“In view of the threats meted out to the petitioners [Punj and Kathpalia], it is imperative for the applicants [AGNI] to join the cause of this petition, lest the entire petition suffers due to the threats and eventually fails,” AGNI’s application said.

Advocate general Ravi Kadam opposed AGNI’s application saying such a move was not necessary.

Punj said: “It’s not like we approached AGNI. Two organisations, including AGNI, had come to us and since we know AGNI for a long time, we are happy to have them with us in this.” Mumbai has only 0.03 acres of open space for every 1,000 people.

Citispace’s PIL challenges the government’s move of using open spaces for slum rehabilitation projects.

It had opposed the government’s policy under the development control rules (DCR) that permitted the division of an open space into three parts, one for slum rehabilitation schemes, one for sale and the third to be used as open space.

It also challenged the provision in the DCR, which said that if a plot measured less than 1,000 square metres and less than 25 per cent of it was encroached upon the government can redevelop it to rehabilitate eligible slum dwellers.

Citispace, in the PIL, states it is not opposed to rehabilitation but only to rehabilitation on open spaces and public spaces.

On July 31, 2002, a division bench of the high court had stayed all new rehabilitation schemes on open spaces reserved for gardens, parks and playgrounds.

The high court admitted the petition in January 2003. It will be taken up for final hearing in 2011.