The city has become a concrete jungle and it requires open spaces so that citizens can breathe clean air, the Bombay high court observed on Wednesday, while directing the state government to consider removing all the structures on Jawaharlal Nehru garden opposite Mantralaya, one of which is the state BJP headquarters.
“Very few open spaces are left in Mumbai and the city has become a concrete jungle,” said the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice CV Bhadang.
“Citizens have a right to live in pollution-free environment, which is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the judges said, adding, “The city needs open spaces and recreation gardens so that citizens can breathe clean air.”
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by citizen associations from Nariman Point and Churchgate area raising concerns over encroachments over the plot near Mantralaya, which has been shown in the development plan for the city as a recreational garden and is generally known as “Jawaharlal Nehru Garden.”
The plot now hosts offices of political parties like the BJP and the Janata Dal as also that of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), the Employment Exchange and a Zunka Bhakar Kendra, and therefore the petitioner bodies had sought directions to remove all the structures non-confirming with the reservation and make it available to the citizens as a recreational ground.
The high court refused to direct removal of the structures, except the Zunka Bhakar Kendra, primarily because the structures were in existence and used since 1978. The judges, however, ordered the state government to consider shifting the government offices — MTDC office and the employment exchange, and also appeal the political parties to shift to some other places to make the entire plot available as recreational ground.
“We fail to understand why the state government does not want to implement reservation of recreational grounds in South Mumbai in their true letter and spirit,” the judges said in this regard.
They added that this is a fit case where the government should seriously consider shifting the government offices on the Garden and also appeal to the political parties to shift somewhere else to ensure the recreation ground is free of such non-confirming structures.