The 3.45-acre of Cross Maidan that was encroached upon by hawkers who had built makeshift houses, has been transformed , thanks to citizens’ initiative.
The heritage ground in south Mumbai is now a lush green patch with paved walking tracks, children’s corner, trees and a large performance area. The Trust plans to use the performance areas by arranging music sessions, open exhibitions by artistes and also cultural events. It is well-lit and has got security guards too.
It will essentially cater to the morning and evening joggers and pets and ball games will not be allowed in the Cross Maidan.
The first phase of the restoration of Cross Maidan was completed on Monday by OVAL (Organisation for Verdant Ambience and Land) Trust, 18 months after the process for its revamp began.
“The city has got another well maintained green open space from today,” said BG Deshmukh, of the OVAL trust.
The land, which belongs to the city collectorate, was handed over to the Trust in 2006. Since 2006, the ground was unused and neglected. The Trust began the process to obtain permissions and arrange for funding the restoration process.
Drinking water fountains and a sculpture of a charkha will be installed in the second phase of the restoration plan. The entire project has been funded by Tata Trusts.
About 7,000 sq metres of the ground is yet to be revamped as the civic body is constructing an underground water tunnel from Cross Maidan to Malabar Hill that is expected to be completed by next year.
“Once the tunnel is ready, we can begin restoration on that land as well,” said Nayana Kathpalia of the Trust. Over 1,500 sq metres, which have been encroached upon by illegal hawkers, are yet to be cleared of squatters.
In 2009, the Trust tried to get hawkers evicted but they got a stay order from the Supreme Court.
“We are in talks with the collector to get the hawkers evicted. Once it is cleared, a small garden will come up there,” said Shirin Bharucha, a member of the Trust.
The move has given another open space to the city that is 43,70,000 sq km and the total area of open spaces is 960 acres, this is only 0.02 per cent area of the city. According to international standards, the guidelines for open spaces is 4 acre per 1,000 people. Mumbai has an abysmally low 0.03 acre per 1,000 people.