The public will have free access to Veer Savarkar Udyan in Borivli which was beautified through the filling up of a natural lake. The project cost was met from the MLA funds of BJP leader Gopal Shetty.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice DG Karnik from the Bombay high court on Thursday directed the Poisar Gymkhana, which manages the garden, to continue its job and allow free access to the public. Shetty is a trustee of the gymkhana. The court observed: “Members of public should have free access to the garden and the children’s park and it shall be kept open from 6am to 10pm.”
The court issued these directions after a public interest litigation was filed by social activist Edwin Britto, seeking the restoration of the natural lake which was filled by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) to beautify the garden and create a children’s park at the recommendation of Shetty. The Mhada had developed the garden by filling up a
lake spread over 3,381 square metres. Also, it beautified the area surrounding another lake — Eksar lake.
The garden was developed on Shetty’s recommendation and by using his MLA funds. Geeta Joglekar, advocate for BMC, informed the court that they are not willing to maintain the garden as they had not granted permission to beautify the garden. Anil Sakhare, counsel for Shetty and Gymkhana, informed the court that they were willing to maintain the garden as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was unwilling to do so.
Mhada said that they had beautified the garden while following the followed orders of the Maharashtra government However, they maintained that it was not their duty to maintain the same. The court had earlier directed the government to restore the lake and consider recovering expenses from Shetty.
Government pleader DA Nalavade told the court that the person responsible for filling up the lake should be made responsible for the restoration of the lake, so that in the future, the environment is not damaged. Nalavade further said that the court should keep larger interest of public in mind as a children’s park existed there.
The petitioner’s advocate said that the cost to restore the lake should be recovered from Shetty’s personal pocket as the government cannot be made to bear expenses twice; for filling the lake and then to restore it.
The court admitted the PIL and posted it for final hearing after the summer vacation.