The fight to protect the city’s open spaces is not restricted to private encroachers. Even civic officials are not thinking twice before converting designated recreation grounds into dumping yards.
A 1,400 sqm recreation ground located in Marol in Andheri (East) was turned into a dumping ground with branches and foliage collected during their pre-monsoon trimming exercise.
Even as senior tree authority officials claimed that the tree debris was supposed to be dumped at a ground in Khar, local ward officials claimed that it was a difficult proposition. “In the past, slum dwellers in the area set the tree barks and branches on fire. We had no other alternative,” said Jagdish Rathod, horticultural assistant, K-east ward.
The display board outside the ground clearly states that the open space is to be used for the purpose of a ‘recreation ground’. But now, says locals, anti-social elements use the plot to indulge in drugs and alcohol.
“Now that the entire ground has been covered with tree remains, officials have started dumping on the road outside. Earlier residents used to play in the evening and had even hosted get togethers in the past,” said Rohan Sawant, a local activist.
Sawant has filed a right to information petition, demanding the assigned use and purpose of the ‘recreation ground’.
“We will clear the ground after Ganesh Chaturthi. In case of any complaints pertaining to safety, we will follow up with the police,” said Rathod.
Kamalashankar Yadav, superintendent of gardens, said: “We have assigned specific grounds for every zone. The ward’s tree officials are supposed to dump the foliage at the designated grounds.”